Nothing to gain from negativity against the NRL

OSCAR Wilde once wrote: "There is only one thing worse than being talked about, and that is not being talked about".

While that statement is philosophical, it tags the 19th century poet and author as an attention-seeker. It suggests he also prescribed to the theory that any publicity is good publicity.

But whether NRL leaders David Smith and Todd Greenberg concur with these proverbial expressions right now is debatable.

Smith and Greenberg have been copping flak from all corners of late, in particular over their respective handling of the TV rights deal and the shoulder charge issue.

Surely, though, that negative publicity comes with the territory.

Many people care about the game, carry a passion for rugby league and feel personally affected by its day-to-day happenings.

Besides politics, only cricket and AFL in this country seem to generate the kind of persistent negative publicity that rugby league attracts. And all three sports are copping it at the moment.

Considering we are a nation of great winners and poor losers, the recent barrage of criticism aimed at Michael Clarke and James Hird is standard fare.

When the tough times arrived, suddenly the outstanding achievements of these wonderful sportsmen were cast aside.

Conversely, the Wallabies largely escaped the blowtorch after their Bledisloe Cup thumping by the All Blacks.

Was that because of a friendly media, or because the populous is less endeared with rugby than it is about NRL, AFL or cricket?

As a cub reporter learning the ropes, I was told that a man in the US, fed up with the bad news he was reading and hearing, decided to start a newspaper which reported only good news. That publication lasted just a few months.

But whether Smith and Greenberg are accepting their current media barrage as a positive for the code is doubtful.

Smith was hailed a negotiating genius two weeks ago when he announced the $925 million free-to-air TV rights deal with Channel 9. Then the AFL announced more money, admittedly over a longer period, and also including pay-for-view rights, and suddenly Smith and the NRL became chumps.

But rather than criticise Smith, why can't we just celebrate the fact that our two most popular footy codes are in such hot demand.

And rather than bag Greenberg for possibly trying a little too hard to once and for all rid rugby league of the dangerous shoulder charge, why not congratulate him for putting the tackle under the microscope.

Let us never forget that we all make mistakes and that is why - as retired league great Bob McCarthy once uttered while sitting beside me in radio commentary - rubbers are on the end of pencils.



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