NRL 360 a bit retrograde?

The Dr didn’t particularly care for NRL 360 last night (is that allowed??).

Apologies if you enjoyed the show, but the novelty of the show I initially held high hopes for is wearing off rapidly. I think part of the reason is an already tired format, as well as the same guests on rotation, saying things that are barely (if at all) indistinguishable from what was said on their last visit.

Enough already. Spread your wings. Get some new opinions rather than those of ‘contracted staff’. Go on, fly closer to the sun, you can do it! The bar really does need to be raised. ‘Who’s going to have a better week Prince Harry or Scott Prince? ’ Who cares? And if I want breaking news, I can get it far earlier on Twitter, the internet, or any rolling sports news show.

But the biggest disappointment comes from the very same place as my initial excitement about the concept in the beginning. It promised to be an entertaining, informative show, something new on the block that lifted the veil on the opacity of the NRL (despite Paul Kent’s assertions last night that rugby league works best with transparency, as if it ever has been).

I longed for in-depth discussion and a solutions-based content and resolution. Instead, Einstein’s quote about insanity (doing the same thing and expecting different outcomes) springs more readily to mind than any ‘Eureka!’ moment.

On the (very) irregular occasion an NRL official is present, there doesn’t seem to be a hard edge to the questioning that demands a detailed or forward-thinking response, which is the only reason I can see that having such a person on the show makes any sense. It actually does make sense, because they are an important stakeholder in the game, just as the players, clubs, fans, broadcasters and other are. But viewers like myself also want to come away from the experience with a hint of strategy, direction or improvement, rather than the sick feeling from last night’s Chinese dinner.

Anyway, the show began innocently enough with interesting discourse from Mr Kent on the Sharks, but soon deteriorated into the similarities and differences between two shoulder charges as if it was a bar room conversation. I can do that at an actual bar – with beer. That’s what the Matty Johns show is for – bar room banter and Gordie defending Queenslanders against any charge.

As far as this show is concerned, it needs to be better than that. And the issue has always been head contact as droned on in this blog since inception, and correctly identified by Cam Smith last night.

What would have made this truly engaging?

A representative of one of the Match Review Committee, Competition Committee, Referees or NRL management might have been a start. Instead, it’s a bit ‘I think, you think’, and nobody gets anywhere.

In this way, we can either get an explanation from, or make a recommendation to (or in any other way grill, toast or skewer), a representative of one of these groups.

You can't handle the truth! Or can we ... ?

You can’t handle the truth! Or can we … ?

You want answers?! Damn straight. Because the current trajectory is the wrong one. That’s my opinion based on a lot of thought and evidence, but I’m always interested in hearing others.

Anyway, back to the show … Let’s make an example of the ‘360 second’ segment. The subjects covered, in order, were:

       NRL clubs

       The ‘wrestle’

       Post-match press conferences

       The battle for Western Sydney

       Reserve Grade

       Where is the game in 10 years?

       Grand Final ticket pricing

       The standard of Referees

Sorry? Eight highly topical issues (of varying importance) apparently deserved to be compressed into the narrow confines of six minutes of rigorous scrutiny and ‘bush analysis’ (not George W. Bush, though I can see the parallels)?

Is this what rugby league ‘analysis’ has become? Seriously? Maybe Tom Raudonikis should host the show. At least we won’t have to hear about ‘Uncle Wayne’ or George Burgess ad nauseum, and it could even spawn a segment that highlights every dumb decision made by a referee, player or officiaI called ‘That’s Raudonikis!’. Yep, that’s what we need …

I for one am tiring of listening to the same debate about the SAME issue each week of every season. I would prefer progress rather than provide evidence that the evolutionary process has met its match with rugby league and, in fact, it is going into reverse. Don’t they realise that compound interest is the 8th wonder of the world?! Progress on progress and pretty soon … you’re making real progress!

The NRL haven’t seen fit to make the changes necessary to really make great strides in propagating the game, though they are just starting to rev up the glacier. They need to understand that appeasing and engaging their existing constituents is a precursor to winning over new ones. Pick the low hanging fruit first (I’m aware I may have said that about a hundred times).

In the meantime, it is up to the commentariat to be a little more professional and focused, and sweep the fans (and NRL) into an era of change through the strength and sense of the argument. We’re not getting this in 45-second grabs, which makes you wonder what it is all about.

George Orwell worried about a world where information was hoarded and not dispensed to the oppressed masses. Aldous Huxley, on the other hand, preferred the idea that the masses could be lulled into a docile state by overloading them with information. I think NRL 360 is turning fans into zombies that walk around, mouths agape, spewing out whatever the catch-cry of any particular issue is, irrespective of their merits.

What would I prefer?

Each of those issues highlighted above should be the subject of an episode devoted solely to them. It’s that simple.

Mismanaged, ineffective, factionalised clubs? What a great episode that would be! Not to mention the opportunity for investigative journalism.

See how I left out ‘the wrestle’ out? Why talk about something that can be solved with one word – penalty?

Post-match press conferences? Get NRL management and a selection of coaches around the table for an episode. For ‘leaguies’, that would be compelling viewing. Let’s all find out what the purpose of the post-match presser is – from the horse’s mouth. Discover why coaches can’t actually make reasonable comment, when the media can make ludicrous and outrageous claims.

The battle for Western Sydney? Wow! Hit the streets and take the pulse of the average Joe footy supporter. Who do they follow? Why? What would make them like NRL more? He possibilities are almost endless.

Reserve Grade? – a history lesson is in order! Though I don’t agree with Mr Kent about having younger kids playing with grown men like in yesteryear. It would be more like young kids playing with slightly older kids, all built like Wollemi Pines. But let’s have a show about it!

Where is the game in 10 years? Let’s find out what fans and management want, and how they propose it. What’s their strategy for growth? How do they make it successful? Do they relocate? What groundwork have they done? Add teams? Make another division? Why and why not?

Grand Final ticketing? Well here’s room for an almighty barney, and let’s have an hour of it!. I don’t agree with means testing a ballot system so that 35 plebs can go and watch the game from the uppermost reaches of the stadium with a view akin to the orbiting international space station. What an atrocious idea. I would like to hear why the ‘working man’s game’ feels that it can cast monopoly pricing power over ‘the working man’, simply because ‘it can’. Hey, that’s what monopolies do, and why they aren’t great for society.

In fact, do they even have a pricing strategy? The Dr has one.

And then the referees … that will need a mini-series as opposed to … what … I don’t believe the question was even answered last night!

It’s a shame I miss this show with increasing frequency, but it’s a shame that I don’t miss it when I do. I’d like that to change.

And before I finish my rant, stop giving airtime to the same old malarkey about the Top 8. Yes, you can lose more games than you win and make the play-offs. What’s the problem? You probably won’t get very far into the play-offs, but that’s another matter.

Just relax and face the fact that the season is made up of two competitions – a long dress rehearsal to weed out the chaff, then a best-of-the-best finals series to anoint the ultimate champion team. Sit back and enjoy.

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4 thoughts on “NRL 360 a bit retrograde?

  1. Tommy Tomato hosting a panel show? Now that’s a golden thread in this here post Doc. We could have Jeff Thomson, David Campese, even Neil Harvey in there somewhere, and then thrown to Choc Mundine once an episode for our ‘Point Counter Point’ moment. We could call it ‘The Guaranteed Controversy Corner’, it would rate though the roof.

  2. And there would probably be biffo on the show as well a la Normie Rowe and Won Casey! The problem having Campese in is that he wouldn’t stop talking about himself, possibly including ‘in the 3rd person’. Thommo would have a tinnie at the ready at all times, so I like your thinking, but Choc probably wouldn’t. He wouldn’t time for it anyway in between screaming “I was robbed!”

    Also, anything with ‘Controversy Corner’ in the name is bound to succeed, but only if guests are given a bottle orange juice and a Meapro ham, and are forced to arm wrestle.

    Too many ideas, not enough hours in the day 🙂

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