Kent: Players’ selfishness will cost us all
Nobody knows when the culture of the self-entitled became a legitimate cause.
Surely this is what Josh Addo-Carr was referring to on Monday when he tried to excuse two acts of stupidity with a third.
The first act came when Addo-Carr posted an image of himself and Latrell Mitchell and 11 others arm-in-arm around a campfire in direct defiance of the social distancing laws that are the law Australia-wide.
The second was posting it on social media. Commit a crime, show the world.
The third came when Addo-Carr tried to excuse it firmly as a family gathering and then a cultural get-together.
"My cousins and two of my uncles," he said initially. "I don't know what to say. I came up here for my pregnant missus …"
What he should have said, right there, was sorry.
So he tried to explain it with the old Get Out of Jail Free card: "Mate, it was cultural gathering," he texted Phil Rothfield, no doubt hoping for an avalanche of support from the Left. "Learning about our land and our culture, learning how to hunt, live off the land."
What culture is that? Riding motorbikes without helmets and shooting .22s? And how, exactly, does the virus know to leave that culture alone?
Maybe somebody, as he drowns in empty excuses, should make Addo-Carr aware that weddings across the country have been cancelled because social distancing laws forbid more than five people attending. Or that only 10 can gather at funerals.
Their sins went above merely their actions.
Addo-Carr and Mitchell gave power to the game's detractors. They highlighted how fragile the resumption of the NRL season will truly be.
It played into Channel 9 boss Hugh Marks' concerns, which dominated last week's negotiations, that the season could be interrupted again through a player testing positive to COVID-19.
They reinforced negative player stereotypes and gave reason to claims the players can't be trusted to return to work before the rest of society.
They embarrassed the administration that has fought so hard to bring the season back early, and who have declared the players can be trusted.
On top of it all, they threatened the income of every other player for the rest of the season.
With no footy, there is no broadcast money, so last month players took a 72 per cent pay cut for the rest of the season.
Their income will rise if they return to playing, and money starts to flow again. Some hope as high as a 50 per cent return of the surrendered 72 per cent.
If the season does not resume, though, because some players give those determined to shut the game down enough reason to argue it should be shut down, the players can kiss that money goodbye.
It buys into that unknown figure that haunts the game. Nobody knows the true sum. It is the amount of money lost to the game through player stupidity.
We saw a small example before round one when a $2 million sponsor walked out on Canterbury after two players invited schoolgirls back to their hotel room.
A year earlier, more than $750,000 was lost to the Dogs after drunken Mad Monday antics to the tune of Neil Diamond.
How handy would that $2.75 million, almost a third of their salary cap, be now?
Bulldogs chief executive Andrew Hill would love to be able to tell the players that there was nearly $3 million in the bank that could supplement their lost wages.
Millions of dollars have left the game over the years for a variety of sins you could not invent.
From lighting mascots on fire to Sweet Caroline.
It disappeared two ways; from sponsors with contracts and, the harder sum to calculate, those planning to invest in the game.
Every club can find an example.
Will a player add to it, with the most expensive mistake of all?
Thankfully, by mid-afternoon on Monday Addo-Carr and Mitchell had apologised and the game could begin the healing.
Behind them NRL chief executive Andrew Abdo, in his first significant test as the game's boss, was reminded of the common failings of the game.
The players should have apologised immediately. The NRL and the players' clubs should have said it was unacceptable and announced immediate punishments.
The RLPA should have condemned the behaviour of two for putting at risk the financial wellbeing of the rest.
It could all have been dealt with in a day.
Instead, the integrity unit is waiting until NSW Police have finished their investigation for the men breaching social distancing laws.
The clubs will wait for the integrity unit to act, the RLPA will endorse the integrity unit's decision,
The NRL, RLPA, Melbourne and South Sydney issued the standard rhetoric about it being "disappointing" and "unacceptable".
The NRL said it was "embarking on a significant education program to ensure our players understand what is acceptable behaviour".
If they don't know by now …
Originally published as Kent: Players' selfishness will cost us all