Posts Tagged ‘Matty Johns’

Darius, we love you; now answer the question!

Take yourself back to 2009. What a year in rugby league that one was.

Queensland won the State of Origin. Hazem El Masri broke Andrew Johns’ long standing point scoring record. Jarryd Hayne had that magical run, bringing Parramatta to the finals, but more importantly stretched journalists to the very end of their powers of rhyme, spawning such notable and long-lasting nicknames like ‘Hayne Drain,’ ‘Hayne Spain’ and ‘Hayne Citizen Kane.’ Melbourne won the premiership, but were exposed as dirty cheats so had it taken away, like candy from a baby.

But there was one thing about that year of football that really wasn’t great. Was it worse than Melbourne cheating the salary cap? Well, if you compiled videos of both incidents and crammed it into 42 seconds, this one would certainly be more painful.

After another shocker of a press conference from Darius Boyd two days ago, I thought I should speak on behalf of people much more qualified than myself about how Darius can improve his relationship with the media.

First of all, let me say to you Darius that more goes unsaid than said in every single article about rugby league. Here’s some of what goes unsaid too often.

“Darius, you’re an excellent football player. You’re better than I’ll ever be. You are at the pointy end of a very high level competition and you’ve worked exceptionally hard to be there. Well done.

Well done, too, on your absurd pace, your calmness under pressure and your ability to make the big plays at the right moment in every single game of every week. We applaud you, and your talent, your team and the rest of the players around you. You’re all great footballers.”

That is never said in a rugby league article. It’s taken for granted that you are an excellent footballer, Darius, and maybe we should tell you more often how good you really are.

So you should know, then, that all criticism directed at you is only directed at you in the context of you being an amazingly talented, hard-working, successful player. The paradigm is so different to, say, fourth grade Saturday afternoon footy, in that you get paid what you do to be in the papers, and play the big games in front of the cameras and score spectacular tries.

Know that we don’t hate you when we criticise. We talk about you in a context that we all dreamed of being inside as kids. But we don’t happen to have a tenth of a sixteenth of your skill, so we write about it instead.

First we admire. Then we evaluate. Then we write, but we only write about the second bit, because if we always wrote about how much we admired, it would be awfully boring to read every day.

Media can be scary. They can write nasty things about you. They have terrifying, limited, ethically bound power. But as Gordon Tallis said on Matty Johns’ show, don’t treat them like the contemptuous, blood-sucking parasite you think they are, treat them like a big megaphone booming out to your legion of fans.

For if it wasn’t for the journalists, your fans wouldn’t get to hear what you have to say on TV or read what you have to say in the paper. They’re your mouthpiece. Sure, the mouthpiece might play Chinese whispers with what you say, but they’re still your link to the fans. If you like your fans, you should at least pretend to not hate journalists during a press conference.

And when you don’t answer questions in a press conference, whether it’s because your nervous, tired, you hate the journalists, or whatever, it doesn’t look good. People don’t see it like you’re making a point.

They just think you’re being a douche.

That’s not to say you are a douche, indeed Gordon Tallis on the very same show said that you weren’t; and who am I to disagree with Gordy having never met you myself?

But it would certainly serve your self interest to just answer the question. Suck up whatever your beef is and do it.

Because we do love you. We just don’t tell you often enough.

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I’m looking at you, AFL

Has the AFL become less predictable than the NRL? After seeing this week’s results sheets I think  it may be getting closer.

I always looked at the AFL as a bit of a banker when it came to tipping and betting. The NRL, in past years, has been an absolute nightmare to tip. It hasn’t really changed this year either, with the “experts” tipping the “Tigers” as “favourites” for the premiership. I don’t know which fantasy world these “experts” were living in. I know that it’s always difficult to tip the NRL, I understand, but I also know that the answer to the question “When will the Tigers finally bring it all together?” is “never!”

For all those that think I’m going all Matty Johns on you, I also know that the “never” answer also applies to Souths and Parramatta as well. To fans of these teams: don’t beat me up, my opinion only.

But you know how it goes, AFL followers. Things tend to work in dynasties, don’t they? There was a Brisbane Lions dynasty, then a Port Adelaide dynasty of sorts, then a Swans dynasty and then a Geelong and Collingwood dynasty. As a fan of sport who doesn’t follow AFL all that closely, I know that I can usually answer the question of who’s going to win this year’s premiership by watching one episode of that year’s Footy Show and picking up hints as to who the two best teams were. Flame on AFL fans. Flame on.

This year, to me, seems different. Collingwood aren’t the dominant proposition they were for the last two years. Geelong got beaten by North Melbourne, who have promised so much but delivered so little over the past number of years. I am beginning to think we might have some new Grand Final contestants this year.

The NRL often advocates that the salary cap is the best thing ever to happen to rugby league. The argument runs that it evens the playing field and ensures a tight competition every year. Looking at the closeness of NRL fixtures, I would generally agree. The competition has been exciting and the standard of play excellent for the past ten years. It’s obvious, though, that the players are playing for much less than they’re worth, and for that reason I think that the cap is immoral. 

The AFL’s  salary cap hasn’t seemed to have had the same effect, at least to my untrained eye (thanks Jacko). Why has the AFL has not enjoyed the same closeness between all teams? It always seems like there are two or so teams standing high above the others in the quality their play. If, through their salary cap,  draft and whatever other systems, they have managed to provide us fans with a competition as even as the NRL, then it is a triumph both for spectators and capitalists alike.

Then again, we just watched Manly, the reigning premiers in the NRL, get beaten convincingly by the cellar dwelling Titans. In that respect I think the NRL is still the benchmark. I would not put my money on the bottom two teams in the AFL to beat any of the other teams, let alone Geelong. But if you ask me when the reals Eels or Titans are going to show up and win, I think it’s just as likely to be against the Storm or the Broncos as anyone else.

I think, if pushed,  the reason I would give for my general lack of observance of AFL in the past has been the predictability of results. If this new trend keeps up, and the top teams aren’t as untouchable as they have seemed in the past couple of seasons,  I may be forced to change my ways. Then again, if the Blues and Eagles begin a dynasty and I’m forced to watch mid-table clashes to see a close game, I might not bother.

I started by mentioning a banker for the betting-folk, and I’d hate to disappoint the many (read: any) that read along. So here it is: bet against the Suns and GWS. I read a news story last week that due to lack of bets on GWS to beat West Coast, the Eagles were paying a flat dollar. Yep. No more bets please.

Stand, spray and deliver.

Critiques from the arm chair