As the 2002 NRL season progresses, it has become evident that some people who have a supposed vested interest in our game are either asleep at the wheel or totally incompetent. I'll go for the latter.
Let me begin by taking aim at Mark Wallace as the primary target for my first shot. Mark Wallace is in charge of marketing and promotions for the NRL and the combined efforts of his department have been abysmal, with the promotion of the game stagnant due to lack of imagination and boring and irrelevant advertising campaigns.
I would like to know what the NRL budgets each year for advertising because surely they are in surplus. Peter Costello would no doubt be proud of their fiscal achievements. This is an area where the NRL needs to be fiscally irresponsible. You have to spend money to make money and the bargain basement campaigns we have seen in the last two seasons have made us the laughing stock of professional sport in Australia.
The current NRL campaign does nothing to make you want to watch Rugby League and does nothing to inspire someone to want to play Rugby League. The current campaign is simply embarrassing and this lack of imagination and general apathetic attitude from the NRL is reflected by the number of vacant seats at every NRL match. This weekend alone, the NRL only broke through the ten thousand spectator mark twice this round and the cumulative total was slightly above the crowd the Sydney Swans attracted for their match against Essendon at Stadium Australia on Saturday night.
The NRL should be aiming at a minumum cumulative crowd of one hundred thousand spectators per weekend of non representative football. If the AFL can achieve this result three times over, then the NRL, with a superior product, should be able to achieve at least half the AFL's crowd and look to build on that result season by season and consolidate the growth through membership drives and higher levels of corporate sponsorship.
The powers that be also need to advertise the showcase events, such as State of Origin and any test matches as major sporting spectacles. By all accounts, the half time entertainment at last weeks first State of Origin was pitiful. Where is all the big game hype and fanfare that puts bums on seats? Are the NRL just content to play second fiddle to the AFL? And the NRL also risk being overtaken by Rugby Union. We, the fans deserve much better than what is currently being dished up but the question I have to ask is,will anybody listen?