Sunday, 7 August 2011

Price Check, Aisle Nine, Rugby League! (2009)

Welcome to the Telstra NRL Competition, live on Channel Nine. Tonight, on behalf of Holden, we will be bringing you the start of this weekend’s football, which are proudly supplied by Steeden.

Tonight, proudly sponsored by Coles, the round, brought to you by Accor, begins at 7.30, brought to you by Citizen, at Suncorp Stadium when the Wow Sight and Sound, Toyota, Brisbane Broncos, in conjunction with The Coffee Shop and Hogs Breath CafĂ©, plays host to the Proton, UD Trucks Wests Tigers, in association with Ali Baba – The taste sensation and X-Blades in front of a crowd of 47,098, all of whom were brought to you today by Queensland Rail.

Comical as it may sound, this is how Rugby League broadcasts are becoming.

At games, every home player is mentioned alongside a sponsor, running onto a field covered in sponsors signs, wearing jumpers, shorts, socks and boots covered in sponsors logo’s, playing on grass painted with Sponsor’s logo’s, being officiated by Referees wearing sponsors names. Players run towards goalposts with sponsor clad padding, playing with a branded football, scoring tries replayed on a sponsored big screen.

If you’re unfortunate enough to be watching the game at home, then you are bombarded with a two minute ad-break every five minutes of play.

Rugby League has become nothing more than an item at a supermarket or retail outlet, it is to be purchased, consumed and discarded on a regular basis. It is no longer a sport or pastime or something the public gets excited and passionate about anymore, it is now, officially a product.

Do people show passion and loyalty to a product the same way they do to family and friends? Sadly, no.

When it comes to products, people generally don’t show loyalty for too long, they stick with something until they either get bored of it, or a cheaper alternative arises.

This situation is a stark reality for Rugby League. The consumers are bored with purchasing the same item that gets drunk, defiles them, abuses you and then leaves. Only a very tiny minority would enjoy that. For everyone else, it’s a boring, repetitive and tiresome product which isn’t really providing value for money at all.

The AFL have already started plans to have a western Sydney team. Rugby League faces a major threat initially, in that all their bored and broke consumers will go to the cheaper, newer product the AFL is flogging.

Given the AFL’s penchant for giving up on brand new ideas pretty quickly, the NRL can feel safe knowing that most of the Western Sydney AFL consumers will eventually be dragged kicking and screaming back to the NRL product, as there’ll be nothing else available, except for soccer, but no one is really interested in buying from the cut-out bins.

The game needs to win over it’s fans, give them something back. The NRL has this belief that the fans are given good football in return for their patronage. That’s a load of bollocks. If you support any of the teams in the bottom half of the ladder, you’ll find they aren’t enjoying themselves.

“Without the fans we wouldn’t have much of a game”

That old clichĂ© has worn thin. Fans provide little by way of financial support for the game now. It’s run by big companies and the media.

The game needs to go back to it’s roots. Play some local park games. Let’s see Souths play from Redfern and the Tigers playing from Leichhardt and Campbelltown entirely. Let’s see a heritage round where we don’t just adopt one-off playing strips. Let’s adopt the rules of 1908 while we’re at it.

Lets have scrums where the hooker has to do more than bend over and lean.

Let’s allow the players to bash the life out of each other however they wish, with no fear of being put on report.

What I’m saying is, let’s forget about the on field image of the game for just one week. If the NRL is serious about looking after the fans, then give the fans something to get excited about. Give them a reason to justify spending twenty bucks. Lets get our moneys worth of entertainment and sport.

Otherwise, the NRL product will eventually become so inflated that no one will buy it, and once that happens, there’s only one way to get the public buying it again.

The dreaded cut-out bin.

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