Wednesday, 23 July 2014

The Halftime Spray #15 (2014)

"People love violence. We love violence in our sport" - Sports psychologist, Professor John Callaghan.
This year's State of Origin series has been criticised by many for being full of niggle tactics and a slap in the face to previous Origin battles.
A lot of that criticism has been directed squarely at the NRL's no punching law. So much so, that it has seen fans, commentators and even players suggest that punching should be returned.
And to some degree, I'd agree with that sentiment, but that's largely due to my passion for the history of the game more than anything else. But we all need to accept that it wasn't the violence that drew people to games, in fact, if the 1970's are any gauge, they drove people away.
So some violence is okay, we still want to watch a good game of footy.
One could argue that niggling is a form of violence. But it's not a sufficiently violent form of violence that some people want. They want punches and blood, like back in the ‘good old days.'
Insert clichéd "Cattle dog!" quote here.
It's always a bit confusing when people discuss their reasoning for bringing back punching. They generally say it allows the players to let off their steam and get the anger out of their system. So in a way, they are saying they don't want to see too much violence, but they want to see more violent forms of violence than niggling.
As the game ages and matures, just like the old cattle dog, it loses interest in the fighting.
I actually think this year's Origin series was one of the best in a long time; a war of attrition up the middle, skilled men trying to pry their way through the most unforgiving defences and flashy players doing the unbelievable to save their team from defeat. No one gave an inch.
The niggle tactics while unsavoury to most, I believe showed a passion and aggression that had been waning, almost to the point that it looked a little scripted in recent series.
"It's Origin; we must have some violent incident"
This series we saw a truly desperate NSW Origin side really show passion. For the first time since 1908, they got just a taste of what Queensland suffered through for decades. For the first time, they played with a level of raw passion and desire to win that they've never reached before. They didn't need to punch anyone to show this.
State of Origin keeps growing bigger and stronger and will continue to do so despite punching not being allowed. It seems odd to want to drag it backwards just to satiate some primal desire for a few minutes.

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