THE BIG ISSUE: #55

The Big IssueBy STEVE MASCORD

THE outrage fans feel when a departing player poses in the jersey of another team really goes to the heart of what it is to support a club – and all the illogical, contradictory emotions that entails.

Personally, I don’t care if Benji Marshall poses in an Auckland Blues jersey or Anthony Mundine blows out the candles on a birthday cake wearing a Brisbane shirt while he’s still playing with St George.

But that’s because I don’t support St George or Wests Tigers.

On the other hand, if someone from MY team (for the record, I don’t really have one these days) was to hold a press conference mid-season and promote a rival side, I’d be hitting the roof.

But I’d have trouble explaining why.

It doesn’t mean the fellow isn’t going to try this weekend. No-one thinks he is going to throw a game, for instance. It’s rare that one club’s jersey sponsor is in direct competition with yours’.

He’s probably on a day off, he hasn’t skived off training. He isn’t saying his new team is better than his old team, it’s just where he’s going next year and the club want him to tell everyone, to make the sponsors happy.

It isn’t really a betrayal in any real sense of the word. No-one is dying. No-one’s interests are REALLY being hurt.

Jerry Seinfeld put it best when he said: “Loyalty to any one sports team is pretty hard to justify because the players are always changing, the team can move to another city.

phonto (1)“You’re actually rooting for the clothes, when you get right down to it. You are standing and cheering and yelling for your clothes to beat the clothes from another city.

“Fans will be so in love with the player but if he goes to another team, they boo him. This is the same human being in a different shirt! They hate him now!

“Boo! Different shirt! Boo!”

Which brings us to this: if Sonny Bill Williams joins Marshall in rugby union next year, but both go to the World Cup, will that be a bad look for our game? Will two New Zealand rugby union franchises be using our showpiece to promote their code?

Of course not. Because we see Super Rugby as being bigger than our World Cup and we consider ourselves lucky to have them.

So maybe that’s where all this indignation about players promoting their next destination comes from: insecurity.

Filed for: RUGBY LEAGUE WEEK