THE BIG ISSUE: #57

The Big IssueBy STEVE MASCORD

THE great thing about social media is it allows you to gauge the general mood of communities, including the rugby league community.

It’s not a completely accurate gauge. Many people in the rugby league community don’t really like social media that much. So it’s a younger sample, probably urban, etc, etc. I’ve noticed, for instance, more people tweet about what’s on Triple M than the ABC.

Be that as it may, the prevailing mood after the Challenge Cup final at the weekend was embarrassment. As a group of people, we were red-faced.

Here was our game on one of the biggest stages in world sport and what we served up to millions of viewers was a knockon-a-thon. The second half, in particular, was a bumbling mess.

The occasion’s biggest star, Sam Tomkins, wasn’t able to show us much of those sizzling kick returns – mainly because of the slippery surface which made it difficult for anyone to get a good footing.

And although they defended stoutly, Hull hardly looked like scoring as they dropped the ball so often it was if they thought they were playing basketball and doing so was mandatory.

Maybe you didn’t watch that game, so let’s touch on a few more examples. Parramatta being flogged by 60 on free-to air television. Lucky that one wasn’t live on Nine or we might have missed some tries in the commercial breaks.

How about some of the games on Friday TV this year involving lowly teams and big scores? Again, we are embarrassed and want someone to do something so that rugby league puts its best foot forward and shows casual observers it’s as great a spectacle as we know it is.

But in a dodgy Wembley club on Empire Way on Saturday night, I spoke to people who had not been to many, if any, live rugby league games before.

And they couldn’t understand what we were whinging about.

“Lots of action”, “faster than union” and “very entertaining” were expressions I heard from the uninitiated.

We assume our love of the game makes as biased in favour of it – but it also makes us harsher on rugby league in the same way you will quarrel with a relative more readily than a complete stranger.

Rugby league at its worst is still a brutal, skillful, epic game played by very brave, fit men. Rugby league at its worst still better than many, many other sports at their best.

Filed for: RUGBY LEAGUE WEEK

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