Dealing With Problem Players


My first piece on here was a little something about how the public likes to judge footballers, whether they are professionals in the NRL or blokes who enjoy a run around the park in local competition like me. While the message seems to have gone down well, recent events have caused me to come back to these issues, and not in the best of moods about it. This time though, I’ll be addressing a different group of people, and that being the senior officials of the game.

Now I’m no expert, but it seems to me that these issues keep cropping up because of one big underlying factor; young men who have too much time, too much money, and too little common sense. Put these together and you get rap sheets like last weekend, albeit not often as serious as what has occurred this time around. We, the fans and other players are fed up of how the things have been handled in the past and something more really needs to be done about it.

The NRL has taken one good step in introducing the Integrity Commission, which is drawing the line in the sand as to how these incidents are now being dealt with, and they should be congratulated with how they’ve handled the Blake Ferguson and George Burgess matters. But as the Cancer Council says, “Prevention is better than a Cure” and this principle applies here as well, and I’ve quickly though up a couple of ways this can be done.

Number one on my list is make sure all players have some form of work or study options available to them outside of football and make it a compulsory part of their contract. Whether it’s a university degree, TAFE course, apprenticeship, a personal training course or even just working behind the bar of the local pub, I guarantee you that a trouble player won’t go out and get plastered if he has to show up at work the next morning with a cranky boss or wake up at 4am for a training session with a client.

Some players already have this kind of mentality, so why can’t the others do it as well?  This doesn’t just keep them out of trouble, but it will also give them skills to fend for themselves when their football careers end and that can be sooner than they think, all it takes is one bad tackle or one little slip while running. Rugby League was formulated as a working man’s game, and it’s only until recently that most players had to work to support their families cause they weren’t paid the huge amounts they are now. Whats wrong with going back to system that promotes something similar?

The second prevention method can be handled at club level, by which the senior club members; be they players, strappers or board members, step up and not be afraid to pull the younger players aside and tell them to pull their heads in. During my younger, formative years when I first started drinking, I was more than once told by senior players and officials of my club to pull my head in cause I was starting to cause trouble.

It’s because of their common sense that I am now able to (more often than not) control myself when I am out on the drink with any of my friends.  It shouldn’t matter how much they’re getting paid or how good they are, if they’re going around, acting like a prick, then pull them aside and tell them that! Once you have, let them know that it’s okay to make mistakes, that you can learn from them.

Now to most people these just seem like common sense answers, and you’re right they are. We can educate, lecture and run as many programs  as we want to help curb this behavior. The fact of the matter is that without real action from our games’ administrators, we are going to have these problems occurring over and over again.

Sean is a final year Computer Science student at UOW and probably is the last person to be lecturing people on responsibility seeing as he’s using his study break to play games and watch Doctor Who. He’s happy with his decision though. Catch him ranting and raving on his Twitter page.


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