NRL is not a contact sport. It is a collision sport.
Big bodies hit each other at high speed. In the 1980s, it was a feature of the game that the broadcast partner would celebrate with a montage of bell ringers. Complete with bell. which, remarkably, seem to have been removed from YouTube. That’s smart to a point, but they’ll be grabbed for later court cases as players come forward with cases regarding chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE).
On the eve of the NRL grand final (aka, the big dance), it is worth considering the future of the game. And in light of Billy Slater’s win in the judiciary this week on a shoulder charge indictment, it is worth thinking about the more violent aspects of the game.
Make no mistake: this issue will be the death of collision sports like rugby, rugby league and the NFL.
Their death will be in two parts:
- Mothers will not allow their children to play.
- Court cases will cripple leagues financially.
The problem these sports have is that the big hits are a core appeal of the game. It’d be like removing the ace from tennis or putting speed limits on race tracks. Do that and the game becomes less attractive. The essence of the sport is removed. League and union, in particular, are built on the physical toughness and courage of the players. Take that away and you’ve removed the test of manhood that can separate a champion from a journeyman.
The latest story
Concern about CTE ebbs and flows with time but will be picked up again following a story in the New York Times yesterday.
The article details the sad decline of Daniel Te’o-Nesheim, a defensive lineman who died last year.
Do read the article.
And consider this picture from the article:
It’s also worth listening to this Freakonomics episode from September 2017.
NRL prediction: Easts by 10.