Our thanks to Andrew Ferguson for his 2014 piece recounting the story of Edward Larkin, who among ot...
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Rugby league is a tough and brutal game, it can even at times be considered a cruel game, yet there is no justifiable reason to describe it as a manly game. The sport of Rugby League has traditionally been portrayed in the media as a hard mans sport, typically a good way for average aussie blokes to bond over a few beers. Yet as my new-age male mind mellows over a steamy hot latte I cannot help but conclude there is just no reason for this situation. Throughout the last fifty years society has evolved significantly in regards to gender relations. Women are now seen to be active participants in a variety of industries and social avenues that until recently had been widely regarded as male domains. Perhaps it is time for Rugby League and all professional sport for that matter to consider becoming the next step in the recently paved road to equality. Such a move would benefit both women and the sport of rugby league, this article shall explain why.
Within the field of sociology there is a school of feminist thought which argues that the notion of gender is a social construct. They would indicate that the only difference between men and women other than their genitalia is the way in which society raises individuals to act. Using this argument it can be assumed that if a girl was to be raised with the expectation that they would be physically active and participate in contact sport their muscles would develop similar if not the same men. This would discredit the argument that women are physically weaker than men and therefore cannot compete on a level playing field. Whilst the argument put forward by these scholars is highly controversial (lets face it sociology is for social psychology drop outs) it has yet to be adequately disproved. If this school of thought proves to be factual Rugby League officials have nothing more than prejudice to justify preventing women from entering the NRL.
The inclusion of women in the sport of Rugby League would have practical benefits. With over half the general population claiming to be female the available pool of players would increase dramatically. With this sudden influx of new talent the NRL would be able to expand the competition without diluting the standard of football. Even if only one woman for every three males became capable of first grade football the player pool would experience an increase of 33.33%. This would suggest that with the inclusion of women the code could increase its geographical spread by a third and still provide viewers with the same quality of spectacle it does at present.
Another benefit the sport would gain from the inclusion of women at the top levels is the dramatic fall in player wages. With a sudden influx of labour into the player market demand for jobs would rise significantly. This would result in a rapid fall in wages as individuals become willing to work for less. This would reduce club?s running costs and help the NRL ensure every club is financially viable. If all professional sports included women Rugby League would also not increase their risk of Union poaching players with high salary offers.
League officials at the moment are currently attempting to attract female viewers to games in an attempt to boost crowds. Including women in first grade would achieve this. Most male supporters dream about playing for their club. After this dream is brutally butchered by the harsh truths of reality the love held for their team remains. If officials can transfer this intimate connection men share between themselves and their sport to women the game would only be he healthier for it.
The sport of Rugby League stands to benefit greatly from the inclusion of. Under the present situation half the population is prevented from participating in a fairly lucrative career. There is no justifiable reason other than sexual prejudice to prevent the inclusion of women at the top level of professional sports. Sports such as NFL have successfully included women as kickers, when will rugby league? Professional sport has too much to gain and too little to loose for this initiative not to be implemented in the foreseeable future. Before our children turn thirty there will be a female halfback playing for South Sydney.