They say a lack of media access is what has led to a drop in crowds. They say the media is the “portal” through which fans get unique access to the game. They may be right — but they aren’t totally right.
Almost every Roosters player has a Twitter or Instagram account. There are fans days, community barbecues — heck, you can get to a game early enough and run into Mitchell Pearce, Daniel Tupou or any of the Roosters stars. And they are more than happy to stop.
Further, they are going out there and making the contact themselves, and it’s something the media rarely, if ever, cover.
This week the Roosters launched their Roosters Against Racism campaign and visited schools in Sydney spreading the message to kids who no doubt went home and picked up a footy — and also were taught something by people the media are happy to call role models only when they mess up.
The media covered it, as Sonny Bill Williams was involved. Yet you know what they led with? Discussions on the shoulder charge.
(The Australian did mention the campaign in the headline, but it took until the last three paragraphs of the story to mention it. Still, credit where it’s due.)
Lost in the preseason bru-hahas surrounding Russell Packer et al was the fact that every club in the NRL took part in the “Tackle Bullying” program. Basically, it’s a program which began in late January and saw every club visit a record 300,087 children from 899 schools in more than 400 towns across Australia and New Zealand. I don’t think I saw this covered once — and if it was, it was probably handed off to an intern.
(The full details are at the foot of this and were sent to this website by Chris (@youjustsaycc) via a story he saw on the Country Rugby League website.)
Instead, we get television reporters getting it wrong about serious injuries, and reporters asking Dane Gagai about an incident that happened months ago — and you have journalists finding the one cloud the the otherwise clear day that was the Auckland Nines, that cloud being the injuries that came out of the tournament.
Injuries can also occur in training. Should we ban training too?
Don’t get me wrong: I love a good yarn in the papers and mags. When done well, and when players are open and honest, it’s refreshing and enjoyable.
But I totally understand why players, especially those who are repeatedly burned, don’t front the media. There’s some real good that rugby league players get up to; far more, in fact, than the negative stuff that happens. It just never gets reported.
Yet it’s that good work that is helping players and fans circumvent the need for the media. And as they engage with their fans — and make new ones — through Twitter, Instagram and programs like these mentioned, do they really need a press conference anymore?
Here’s the story that appeared on CRL:
A record 300,087 children have experienced Rugby League’s powerful “Tackle Bullying” program as part of the 2014 Community Carnival delivered at 899 schools in more than 400 towns across Australia and New Zealand over the past six weeks.
The game’s most successful Community Carnival kicked off in late January with the Dragons visiting schools in their local area of Kiama and wound up this week with Ambassadors visiting more than 5,000 children in Perth.
The program, the largest of its kind in Australian sport, also received endorsement last month by US experts at the National Bullying Prevention Centre in Minnesota and by Australian organisation, the Alannah and Madeline Foundation in Melbourne.
During the six-week 2014 campaign, Ambassadors and players from all 16 NRL Clubs covered more than 20,800km, with highlights including:
Broncos Visited a total of 8,000 children at 34 schools in the Wide Bay region (QLD) and local Brisbane communities.
Bulldogs Travelled 2,600km to Queensland’s Fraser Coast and Sunshine Coast to visit 13,802 children at 36 schools.
Cowboys Visited 20 schools in flood-stricken Herbert River (Regional QLD) over three days.
Dragons Visited a total of 115 schools in Kiama, Bega, Illawarra and Kogarah in four separate regional tours.
Eels Travelled 2,766km to remote Alice Sprints, visiting 12,000 children in Indigenous communities and more than 23,000 during their local campaign.
Knights Visited 8,525 children in Denman, Maitland, Kurri Kurri, Newcastle and Tamworth.
Manly Delivered the program to almost 10,000 children in local Northern Beaches schools, Kempsey and Bowraville.
Panthers Hit 44 schools and delivered the program to 12,800 children in Sydney’s West in a four-hour period on February 24.
Rabbitohs Travelled to Albury in regional NSW to visit almost 3,500 children at 11 schools.
Raiders Visited a total of 51 schools and 12,294 children in Canberra and regional NSW.
Roosters Travelled to NSW’s Central Coast on Valentines Day to see almost 8,000 children in one day.
Sharks Took the program to Christchurch in New Zealand to visit 11 schools over three days.
Storm Visited more than 10,000 children in regional Victoria and local Melbourne schools.
Wests Tigers Visited 13,252 children in the Southern Highlands and 15,849 children in their local South West Sydney area.
Titans Hit a total of 37 schools and 9,650 children in Yamba, Maclean, Grafton, Coffs Harbour, the Tweed region and Toowoomba
Warriors Delivered special “Tackle Bullying” games to 6,500 children in Hamilton, Dunedin and Auckland.
Ambassadors A 24-man squad travelled a total of 5,000km and visited more than 32,000 children during the campaign.
Key Statistics for 2014 Community Carnival:
Visits to 300,087 school children
More than 400 towns across Australia and New Zealand