DISCORD 2013: Edition 12


THIS proposal for clubs affected by the drugs bans being loaned players by other clubs raises some fascinating questions about what sports organisations really owe their broadcasters.

The ASADA investigation is all about the integrity of sport – but what affect does artificially propping up a team found to be full of drug cheats have on the integrity of a competition?

Through a salary cap, and without the assistance of a draft, the NRL has produced a competition of great uncertainty. Discord would argue this is a great achievement of previous administrations – many, many players get to represent their local team without being wrenched away and still we have an almost complete unpredictability of results.

(Maybe that’s a little less the case in 2013 – but that’s another column entirely)

Look at the mechanisms other professional sporting competitions around the world put in place in search of this elusive goal

So on the back of all the different NRL champions we have had since 1998, the NRL gets $1.025 billion for its television rights. Great.

But now the League is apparently beholden to its broadcasters to disaster-proof the league. If a large group of players from one franchise is suspended for drugs offences, it is supposed to make sure that club remains competitive for the sake of television viewers.

Has anyone seen the scorelines lately? We’ve had 36-0, 32-0 … what scoreline, exactly, is acceptable to Fox and Channel Nine? Is there some unwritten rule to keep it under 50?

If there was a disgraceful all-in brawl with kicking and gouging and a game was abandoned – an eventuality not unprecedented in rugby league (any French readers?) – would multiple bans be followed by the offending club being loaned a few players?

Surely the way rights contracts should work is that we perform well as a sport, you reward us with a big cheque. After that, as long as we can stage the requisite number of matches as stipulated in our contract, your influence over us is nil until we negotiate the next deal.

How many teams can win the Premier League every year? How many finals or play-offs to they have? And how much do they get in rights money?

It’s not black and white, though, is it? I would favour a team denuded by ASADA findings getting salary cap concessions. To an extent, even that defeats the argument above.

But the NRL has achieved admirable parity without resorting to the artificiality other sports and competitions have employed to get inferior results.

If the Sharks are right and some of these offences happened under the noses of officials, then the club should not be saved from the price and penalty of those offences.


WHOEVER is left in the boardroom down at Cronulla must be shaking their heads tonight.

ASADA no longer seems interested in wrongdoing at clubs, instead moving its attentions to 31 players, as announced by the NRL at a media conference this afternoon.

But the Sharks, having sacked four staffers and stood down their coach, are a smoking hulk. It’s fair to say they probably expected their decisions to be later justified by ASADA’s findings.

But for the next month or six weeks, we’re only going to hear about players – not coaches or officials. If the Sharks made their decisions in the interests of “doing the right thing”, fair enough.

But if they made them in the interests of “seeming to do the right thing”, then they’ve been left high and dry.

FEEDBACK time now and Bottom Line said there wasn’t enough psychological help for players at clubs.

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