F***

It?s a terrible feeling when you realize that you?re getting old. As Grampa Simpson once said, ?I used to be ?with it? ? but then they changed what ?it? was?. All of a sudden you start getting strange desires for cups of warm milk, and complain about the stupidest things.

Well darn my socks and call me Ethel ? I must be getting old.

Who remembers the post-match interviews from the Grand Final last year? It was mostly made up of some very happy Tigers using colourful language with gay abandon. Poor old Matty Johns didn?t know what to do. Rabs Warren apologized on air, and everyone got on with it.

When the inevitable PC-backlash hit, it was explained as a consequence of the euphoria that the young Tigers were feeling; fair enough ? I?ve got no dramas with that whatsoever. Sure, it may have offended or surprised some families where little (or extremely old) ears were listening, but it certainly wasn?t done on purpose.

It?s certainly not the only time that sort of thing had happened. Ricky Stuart was well within earshot when he expressed his displeasure at Brett Finch being sin-binned in last years Anzac Day clash. Mal Meninga fired up his Queensland team with a barrage of four-letter words many moons ago. So what?s the drama??

These days, after the Grand Final interviews of last year, people will be a little more aware of the language around them when they watch any NRL game on TV. By putting their hands up and apologizing, Channel 9 have basically admitted that it?s a problem and left themselves (and anyone else who covers NRL games) open to criticism for any future lapses in censorship.

So after all this, why is it now impossible to sit through an entire match without the cameras managing to pick out someone swearing?

It?s not done by accident either ? I?m convinced that there are specially configured ?swear-cams? set up around the ground to zoom in at exactly the right times. You know the ones I mean - the dummy-half has knocked on five metres out from the tryline, or a centre has passed the ball straight into touch, or a goalkick has missed by a coat of paint. The cameras flick straight onto the offender, and there it is:

?F***?

Or maybe a team has a try disallowed, or a referee penalizes a team just one more time ? and the camera will instantly whip around to the coach on the sideline:

?F***?

Okay, you might not be able to hear them, but that?s not the point. You?d have to be as thick as Ayers Rock not to know what they?re saying. Now that it has been ?officially? confirmed as a bad thing, the cameras are specifically trying to catch these people out ? and they can?t get enough of it.

There is an obvious question that springs to mind here - what the hell is so wrong with swearing anyway? These guys are out in the middle of some pretty intense battles where the slightest mistake or missed opportunity can make an incredible difference. In the heat of the moment, it?s probably a much more acceptable way of venting than to turn around and wallop someone.

But that?s not the point. After the Grand Final, the awareness has now been created. And mark my words; it?ll simply be a matter of time before another NRL star is given a slap with a wet bus ticket for expressing vocal emotion on the field. Brett Finch knows what I mean here.

So here are the options:

ONE ? Send a strongly (but not too strongly!) worded edict out to all clubs instructing that any player using inappropriate language during a match can expect a visit from Mario Fenech and a bar of soap.

TWO ? Leave things as they are, and wait nervously for the backlash as pockets of Senior Citizens begin to grumble and grow increasingly unsettled about the whole situation.

THREE ? Get rid of the damn swear-cams!! If someone stuffs up on the field, how about focusing on the cheering opposition fans? Or the referee? Or the mascot on the sideline, thumping the ground with his fist?

Sure, maybe I?m being petty here. And maybe I have just aged 50 years in the last 700 words. But hey, Channel 9 lit the fire ? and they?re doing f*** all to put it out.

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