Midweek Bulletin - Boycotts And Strikes

Usually 'boycott' and 'strike' are terms/action used in foreign sport, especially in more modern times. Sometimes though we see them pop up in our part of the world but for players and fans to be threatening their sport's overlords with boycotts and strikes in Australia, right around the same time is pretty damn crazy.

In rugby league we have the Rugby League Players Association, who represent the players, threatening the NRL with strikes or 'industrial action' should their needs not be met. In football the ongoing dramas between the Football Federation Australia and fans looks to go to a new level with fans outlining their plan to boycott games, going one step further from the walk outs that we saw this weekend.

I'll start with the NRL, with their issue being the high workload based on players. The RLPA met with the NRL yesterday to spin the yarn, only to be told that they five day turnaround between games would be kept after the NRL made their 2015 draw with no thought of getting the RLPA's views. 

Going into bat for the players it situations like this is always tricky. Players get payed a lot of money to do what they love and so the common argument is that they should just man up and do the job. I get that and at some point the players have to accept the high demands placed on them, which I think they already do. However, the rugby league calendar has changed dramatically in the past five years; starting in February with the Nines and ending for some players with end of year internationals. Throw in a full NRL season (with five days between some games) and three State of Origin games (where players are celebrated for 'backing up) and we have a rather hectic schedule for the game's elite.

That's the main point I'd like to make as most of the 'strike' talk has come from the upper echelon of the NRL. Cameron Smith has always been vocal about player burnout and it's Jonathan Thurston who is the face of it at the moment; this impacts them the most. Interestingly though, the media outlets who pay big bucks for NRL coverage must get some of the blame as they are only thinking about their profits and not the welfare of the players ... the same media outlets who also provide these players with media opportunities #Weird.

I don't expect to see a strike though. The RLPA are simply making their voice heard, which hasn't always been the case and greater collaboration between the NRL and the RLPA should solve these issues ... you'd assume. 

The NRL has spent some portion of the last two years or so alienating its fans, yet this is put into the shade by the FFA who are quickly building a moat between fans and them. Obviously for us kiwis the FFA's decision to scrap the Wellington Phoenix headlines this and strangely the FFA continue to make alienating their fans a priority. The FFA's decision to release a list of 198 banned fans (for apparently being scumbags) has kicked off in all sorts of ways as the angst between fans and the FFA continues to grow.

Last weekend Western Sydney Wanderers fans and a few other groups of fans left the games they were attending, opting to watch the games from outside the stadiums on screens, all to make a point. I heard some Australian media pundits ripping into these fans for not supporting their respective teams, which like the 'NRL players make lots of money though' way of thinking is fair, but I can't co-sign it.

In both cases, action or the threat of action has been made as the governing body does its best baby impression - hands over ears and lalalalalalala I can't hear you! What else are you supposed to do when you aren't being listened to and in the case of the A-League fans, you are being accused and outed publicly without evidence or an opportunity to fight your case?

If anything, this should remind everyone about the various groups involved in making a professional sports league a success. You can argue whether players, fans, officials and media outlets (who fund pretty much everything) are more important than the other, I'm more inclined to believe that all stakeholders need to collaborate seamlessly and if it can't be seamless then at least have a collaboration process.

Right now, officials are neglecting the needs of fans and players. Imagine if the players started hating on the fans and stopped any interaction with a fellow stakeholder? It would be crazy and this is no different. 

Don't forget about the Football Ferns taking on Brazil today.

Don't sleep on Ricardo Christie either (as the plethora of sporting action has made me do) and he's in action in the Vans Surfing World Cup at the moment. Christie has made it to Round 3 after skipping the first round where he's in heat 4 against two Brazilians (Italo Ferreira and Alex Ribeiro), which should be going down later this morning. Here's Christie's first round...

Steven Adams!