So I repeat, which of the stopped industries is more inherently dangerous for the spreading of coronavirus than the NRL?
When I put this question on Twitter yesterday, one of the NRL supporters insisted, quite genuinely, that aged-care facilities was the example I was looking for. Bloody hell. I don’t know what kind of aged-care facility your fine grandma is in, mate, but I am hoping it is not the one my Auntie Rod is in. When I go to visit her, the residents are mostly in their rooms, or playing bingo, or watching TV. They’re not rolling around on the floor with each other. The crash-tackling, if it happens, must occur just after visiting hour.
Not to worry though.
The league supporters, led by Peter V’landys, insist their code is different.
“You can trust us,” they say earnestly, “because the environment is absolutely safe. That safety is built on our players being tested, washing their hands before and afterwards, and our insistence that they must observe the strict guidelines we will put into place.”
Which leads me to my next question, my league friends.
Which industry, in the country, has the worst track-record when it comes to observing strict guidelines?
I pose that as a serious question. And don’t yell in reply. That doesn’t cut it for debate. Please try for a serious answer if you have one. But I will be fascinated.
We are all stopped here at the traffic lights, and we’ve been here for two months. And you really think NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian, out in the intersection, should blow her whistle and point to league to be waved through first while the rest of us stay put?
And this is because it is OK, because the lads will observe the guidelines?
I hate to point out the bleeding obvious, no really, but you might have noticed some news items in the last couple of days concerning Latrell Mitchell, Josh Addo-Carr and Nathan Cleary? I noticed them. It seemed to me that when you have players who not only break the rules but then put it on social media, it hardly fills the public with confidence that these are the guys we can depend upon. Surely you can’t think that unfair? Under the circumstances, I checked on the origin of Addo-Carr’s nickname of “Fox”. Sure enough, it had nothing to do with him being noted for his sly cunning.
I was not alone in my scepticism.
Another fellow on Twitter put it well: “I’ve heard that channel Nine will not be broadcasting the NRL as part of it sports coverage when it resumes, but rather as a reality TV programme. The first episode of The Footballer Wants a Root will go to air on May 28.”
All up, the whole thing has gone on long enough. We need Gladys to blow the whistle, one way or another. Neither she, nor the health authorities, nor the Border Force mob have yet made a strong public announcement on this issue. While the AFL seems to be getting all the authorities to tick boxes before it makes an announcement, the NRL has done the reverse, and just hopes the boxes will be ticked.
So, Gladys, if it is “Thunderbirds are go,” great. Tell us. But also tell us why them and not everyone?
And if it is everyone, even better. But tell us!
Every day you rightfully admonish the rest of us that this ain’t no disco, this is LA, that we can’t relax. We get that.
We just need to know if you are, or aren’t, in favour of the NRL starting again. And if so, please tell us the reasons for rugby league exceptionalism, and why you trust that the players will do the right thing.
Your move, Premier Gladys.
Sign up to our Coronavirus Update newsletter
Get our Coronavirus Update newsletter for the day’s crucial developments at a glance, the numbers you need to know and what our readers are saying. Sign up to The Sydney Morning Herald’s newsletter here and The Age’s here.
Peter FitzSimons is a journalist and columnist with The Sydney Morning Herald.