Sunday, July 19, 2009


I watched the 3rd State of Origin rugby league match few days back between the Maroons (QLD) and Blues (NSW). It was a great match, played with real fervour and intensity. The game ended in a sour note with a fight between players from the Blues and Maroon team. Fights are common in Rugby league games. It is a brute of a game, sometimes, few blows needs to be exchanged to balance things out. I have no problems with that. The incident which shocked many was the behaviour and actions of a Blues player after he had knocked out his opponent. The player kept punching, shouting obscenities at the unconscious player lying on the ground. The Blues player is guilty of a conduct charge and will face the consequences soon.

People have reacted to this incident saying things like -

"His actions were not in the spirit of the game" (!!)

"It was passion that went a bit too far"

"Sport is being treated like a war"...

All of the above statements may be right. However, I feel the Blues player lost something a bit more fundamental in that incident. He lost his integrity as a player. People may admire these players. Kids may or may not look up to them as role models. But, when you are playing at the highest level, you owe the game a sense of respect and integrity in your actions. Adherence to moral principles and ethical values should not be forced nor should it be a noble aspiration. It should come from within. Sportsmanship and the soundness of moral character form the fabric of the game. Without it, the term 'spirit of the game' is just a joke.

Integrity is an essential component of a respectable sportsman. When it is lost, the 'sportsman' in the player ceases to exist. Tom Peters, a management guru, once said "There is no such thing as minor lapse of integrity." So goddamn right!

State of Origin is a celebration of the game of Rubgy League. The game may be alive and kicking. With incidents like this, it loses its soul.

1 comment:

  1. Yup I watched it too.It was pretty ugly and scary that an adult can't realise that he has just bulldozed another man yet keeps behaving like a lunatic.This sort of behaviour has just no excuses and if players feel they have to let go off some steam they should be trained to run away .Minimal amount of shoving and staring and mouthing off is ok and is actually funny when you don't understand the language eg the French playing the All blacks.League management is poor as these players are spoilt and they cover up all sorts of things just because one is good on the field.The offender should be banned for whole year and that will teach others as well