The NRL is a standout organisation for its commitment to player welfare. There is little doubt that the NRL believes in continuing to lead positive change in Australian sport, as Rugby League did when it was born 110 years ago, with a major focus on addressing social issues.
Take the issue of ‘prevention by punishment’, that at times results only in instilling fear of penalties, which is not an effective or enduring deterrent, and even in the wider society has proved to be ineffective.
Albert Einstein said, “If people are good only because they fear punishment, and hope for reward, then we are a sorry lot indeed.”
Jack Gibson may have echoed the same message in his way “If you choose to be a mug outside the game, then that critical time will come when you will be a mug on Game Day.”
About clubs and morality…
It is widely accepted that the NRL clubs with the strongest leadership groups have the least number of off-field concerns. These players of those strong clubs understand the true meaning of ethical behavior because…
About Ethics as a system of moral principles applied in sport…
A Code of Ethics is not a Code of Conduct. Codes of Conduct are part of a player’s contract and spell out the penalties of breaching a Code of Conduct if it results in being brought into disrepute.
A Code of Ethics is in realty an unwritten acceptance that the playing leadership of a club initiate and build upon ethical standards and expectations, and that if contravened by a player, will be viewed as a violation of the ‘morals’ shared and upheld by the team.
Players need to understand that they have agreed to behave with shared integrity, responsibility, respect, and non-discrimination, for they are the four points that define a person embracing that code. Furthermore, the playing leadership group reminds players of their moral obligation to the game and team because if they breach, they will bring the teams integrity into question. In this sense, the Code of Ethics provides an overarching shared and agreed values system that reflects the team’s values and shows in team member behavior. The Code of Conduct becomes the means of implementing associated policies and the NRL rules of conduct.
The NRL has excellent player programs and articulates strategies that reflect an NRL with strong governance and with an ongoing expectation that codes will shape expected behavior. However, there remain some players who are quick to blame other external and ‘uncontrollable’ factors when things do not go their way or using that line when they have simply been caught out.
It is much easier to point the finger at some statute or rationalize that your action is warranted when you should just stand up and take ownership.
Those without ethics, when caught out, do not panic because they do not fully understand what they have done, but then panic when they finally find out what is going to happen because of their action.
The irony is that we mere mortals learn more and develop faster when we admit mistakes and take ownership of them. When we blame other factors, what we are really doing is giving up the opportunity to resolve our lack of moral accountability. In an ever-changing wider society, there is a true need for the players to accept accountability, as being accountable means taking ownership for the way that you approach life outside the game, and also how you play the game, as it is linked to believing that you can actually control the outcome of your performance.
Remember that the sport you play did not pick you, it was your choice, so honor it, and I can assure you it will repay you on many occasions for the rest of your life.
“I prefer to win titles with the team before individual prizes or outscoring everyone. I’m much more concerned with being a good person than being the best footballer in the world” said Lionel Messi.
Final thought: Remember what happens in Vegas may stay in Vegas, but what goes on Google could stay on Google forever.
Paul Broughton OAM