Cronullas’ Andrew Fifita believes rugby league is soft, writes Greg Cary.
Andrew (along with Sonny Bill Williams) is serving a suspension for a shoulder charge that made contact with an opponents head in round one. Some commentators and journalists agreed, suggesting it’s all a result of political correctness. Now, you can argue about the banning of the shoulder charge but I’m not quite sure what PC has to do with anything.
That pervasive and intrusive concept is about being forced to conform with the majority for fear of earning their displeasure if you don’t. To do the right thing as seen by enough “others” to make it the perceived truth. It is a dangerous business. PC is about removing personal responsibility – not enforcing it.
The shoulder charge has been banned because of its potential to do serious injury in an already tough game. It removes the need for the use of arms in the tackle, therefore allowing the person making the “tackle” to aim all their potential energy at the target. The unintended results of it going slightly wrong are enormous. We are not talking here about banning children from monkey bars. Political correctness would see us ban all risk. That is not what this is about.
In fact, at a time when we are learning more about the long term damage of concussions, it would be irresponsible not to grant some further protection to these very fine athletes. They are playing a game with rules already designed to limit the possibility of serious damage. The shoulder charge is no more missed in Rugby league than are the now banned semi-automatic weapons from society more widely.
Times change – often for the better. Not that long ago players would run to the line in the perfectly reasonable expectation of being stopped by a head high tackle. Teeth would literally fly, jaws would be broken.
To imply that removing from the game actions that unnecessarily endanger the players is to make the game soft is to misunderstand the nature of body contact sport. It is tough enough without actions that enhance the prospect of serious injury.
It has nothing to do with political correctness but is, instead, an attempt to safeguard the well-being of players at all levels – and ages.
Andrew Fifita has just signed a new multi million dollar contract. He, like Williams, knows the shoulder charge is banned and should show some responsibility to those writing the huge cheques by losing it from his armoury.
The only thing soft is his brain. That’s why they are trying to protect it.