Melbourne Storm, wow. You guys had everyone convinced that you had somehow managed to create a dynasty in this era of equality, that the salary cap was no barrier to success. And whilst this still may remain true, and the salary cap did prove to be no barrier, you have disgraced yourself, your fans, your players, the NRL, and all of New South Wales- basically, everyone who has a vested interest in rugby league.
The thing I’m most concerned with in this situation, though, is the ramifications of the punishment laid down to the Storm. They’ve already gotten rid of Brian Waldron, the supposed hubristic architect of this scheme, and have been fined millions, were stripped of their last two premierships, and deducted all their points earned (and any potential future points earned) this season. I see how the NRL has done pretty much all they can given their stunted powers, but it doesn’t seem enough to me. How can you retroactively strip someone of a premiership? All the emotions and personal glory that comes with it cannot be reversed; maybe the players might feel a small bit cheated now, the victories seeming a tad hollow, but there’s no doubt that feeling like that is infinitely better than never having won at all.
The other main aspect of this that I’m interested in is the aforementioned deduction of this season’s points. I agree with the loss of all that the Storm has accumulated so far, but to say that any more points amassed this year will count for naught is absolutely bizarre. By doing so, it highlights a weird philosophical quandary that exists in sports. Here’s why.
The general consensus is that because the Storm cannot gain any more points, their wins count for nothing, and there is effectively no point to them playing other than to disrupt other teams. This, it seems, would result in their games being attended by literally none of their supporters (assuming they still have some). The players would have literally no reason to play in these games, apart from playing and winning bonuses.
Of course, my thinking is not quite diametrically opposed to this, but pretty damn close to being so. I kind of look at it as a chance for us to step back and look at sports objectively. What is the point of sporting contests in the first place? Why should a particular team winning have any impact on our lives? Why should it have an impact on anyone’s life? Realistically, whether you can catch a ball two and a half metres up in the air doesn’t make you a better person, nor should it make your life better. What I’m trying to say is that there was no reason for anyone to support the Storm in the first place.
When I asked my Dad why winning the Premiership is important this afternoon, he was dumbstruck. Like many unabashed sports supporters, he cannot take a step back and look at the situation holistically, and see sport for what it is (or should be)- just a game. Of course, this isn’t to say that I can’t enjoy or appreciate a Premiership; I follow many teams in a multitude of sports, and if they happen to win, I honestly am affected by it. But my affectation is for different reasons, I think. I like what sports does to other people, mostly; how if their team wins, a die-hard supporter will be genuinely blissful. Watching the Thunder-Lakers NBA match today, I found myself cheering every Thunder basket vicariously. Admittedly, I do actually support them, but I was cheering partially because of the crowd; their sheer dedication, their willing along of the Thunder, was infectious and irrepressible. And this is why I find it much easier to support the home team in any sporting competition- if I am unbiased, the only times I’ll go for the visitors is to be a non-conformist tool.
(Apologies for the lack of coherence, I wrote this whilst hungry.)