R M Cullen
MD MSc MFM BA DipStats DipProfEthics
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Young elite athletes have four natural enemies. They are
This week Isaac Luke, Kiwi co-captain, was criticised for 'petulant' responses to media questions about his fairly ordinary early season form. Andrew McFadden, the Warriors coach, sided with the critics (McFadden is always ready to turn the knife once it has been plunged into one of his players). Isaac was on tour with the Kiwis in November 2015. He did not get much of a summer break. His pre-season was interrupted by injury, and the latest addition to his family, born four weeks ago, spent three weeks in hospital. He is not fit, and he has more important things than footie on his mind.
Luke should not be fronting the media. He does not talk much at any time, and hates microphones.
Players must remember that the job of the media is to attract readers, listeners, or viewers. It has nothing to do with telling the truth, but is all about telling the story in the way that gets the most attention. Players don't have to talk to the media, and my advice to Isaac luke (not that he has asked for it) is to hold grudges against the media - if you don't like what they write about you, stop feeding them. If you have to talk to them (because the club requires you to) then speak in cliches. Give them nothing. Think of them as the puffed up little shits that they are.
This week too, Shaun Johnson had a shot at the keyboard cowards who say things from the safety of their bedrooms that they would never dare say to his face. The issue here is the stupid advice from the communications people within professional clubs who enourage players to have a large social media presence. Mind you, Johnson does himself no favours by posting instagram pics of him at glamorous cocktail parties rather than of him practicing his kicking!
Young elite players should have the smallest possible public social media footprint. Turn those privacy setting to high! The marketing and communications people are idiots. Their job is to create the 'brand' so that fans attend more games and buy more merchandise. People are going to turn up and watch Shaun Johnson play, because of the way he played last week, and because they know he has been working on that kick he missed, not because he was at some high society booze up on Wednesday.
Players keep on doing it. They let hangers on into their circle without realizing that a proportion of these are looking for fame by association, or even worse, looking for a photo or video that they can leak to the media. Trust only those who were your mates before you became famous. Newbies have to earn your trust, by keeping little things private and building from there.
There was a time when if some idiot gave a rugby player a bit of lip and got a tap to quiet him down, the police would see that justice had been done and give the idiot a talking to. Nowadays it seems that points are awarded within the police for arresting sportspeople, and if a league player can be caught pissing in the street, or kicking car tyres, that is the height of good police work and the media are informed so the matter can be on the front page. This is bullshit. Rugby league players are real men. They drink, they fight, they have fun, and they find things funny which real men find funny. Yet they are judged by soft cocks who hate the sport, and who hate them. Do not trust the police. Their job is to arrest and embarrass you