Off the Wall

I have been looking over the "players behaving badly" incidents over the last couple of years. There is no stand out common factor relating to age, club, ethnic background or playing position.

The one common factor in EVERY case of a player behaving badly is excessive drinking. And in some cases it is clearly an incapacity to drink responsibly full stop.

The extent of alcohol abuse by young Australians has been put into the too hard basket by governments of both political persuasions. The power of young voters, and the influence of the alcohol lobby just make real action, and not PR stunts and stop gap measures, unattractive.

And that is a carbon copy of what has been happening in the greatest game of all.

When governments banned cigarette sponsorship, rugby league led the way in switching to alcohol sponsorship. Both Origin teams are sponsored be breweries, and on it goes. Just a day after two players made the headlines for the wrong reasons, the XXXX Maroons had a meet the fans session outside a liquor shop, and you can safely assume the VB Blues will be doing the same.

And it not just players who damage the game because of alcohol abuse. Just look at the behaviour of some of the so called "fans" at club, and even Origin matches!

I am fed up with paying serious folding to go to matches only to have the occasion made unpleasant by drunks sitting behind and in front of me whose purpose in being there seems to be consume as many cups of beer as possible and then using the "F" word in every garbled sentence. Even if the NRL finally announces a comprehensive crack down on players behaving badly because of excessive drink, will the NRL, the clubs, and more importantly major venue operators also crack down on drunken, obscene and abusive spectators? And doing so by limiting alcohol consumption to defined bar areas as it used to be?

No way! The liquor industry would threaten to pull sponsorships. The venue owners will cry poor and demand higher ground hiring charges. So what hope is there of getting some control over players drinking to excess when right across the game alcohol is being promoted to excess?

And the game remains, tragically, addicted to it.

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