Players making intentional physical contact with referees should be encouraged not eradicated.
There is always something to talk about after a 3weekend of NRL and this week’s hot topic centred on two players being charged with contrary conduct charges for touching an official.
Sounds abit dirty doesn’t it…
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Well, it’s not. It’s just really stupid. For many reasons.
But I’ll get back to why that is in a second.
The story continues in the media because two other players were found to have touched referees but not been charged.
Now, anyone wanting to argue that not touching referees is a sign of respect can go and grab a whistle and run onto a field before proceeding with said argument.
Sure, not beating seven shades of shite out of a referee or official – that’s showing respect.
Not physically intimidating them, standing over them, yelling at them, verbally abusing them – these things all fall under the category of showing respect.
But touching them? You’ve got to be joking.
When did we arrive at a point where human men couldn’t be trusted to discern for themselves what is (for example) a friendly ‘are you ok mate I saw you fall over there’ touch and what is (again just spit balling examples here) a ‘if you don’t blow that penalty ill knock your block off’ touch.
I just laugh at the NRL and their zero tolerances.
What happens if a ref starts choking?
‘Thanks JT for helping the guy off the field, you’re a good bloke…but that will be six weeks’.
You may laugh at the hyperbole but zero tolerance is exactly that – ZERO.
Referees, all officials, do a job few people want to do.
Why is that I wonder?
Could it be because no one wants to say hello, shake hands or have a beer with the guy or girl who no one is allowed to touch on the field?
Sports spend countless millions on programs to foster respect for referees but also to fight the negative stigma attached to refereeing that it is a social death sentence.
And sometimes it can be for young people – being out in the middle you feel ostracised enough without the guys or girls your officiating not even being able to treat you like a human person.
Referees are not special. They are just people.
The sooner we start treating them as normal people and not part of a fine china collection the sooner they will get the respect they deserve both on and off the field.
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