I know it is just a game, and I know I have more important things to do than post this blog entry. But, I can’t help wondering what it is that I am missing about the ginormous kerfuffle encompassing Victoria and the NRL.
According to the official Storm website there are 36 players on the NRL squad. In the absence of any better information I will assume that this number is not unusual. So, what is the magnitude and significance of the overpayments?
Well, $1.7 million over five years over 36 players represents a little less than $10,000 per year, per player.
Yes, I know that technically, the cap applies only to the most highly paid 25 players. So the figure becomes about $13,000 per player per year.
In either case this is significantly less than 10% of the salary bill for the club.
Wow, $1.5 million in fines, stripping the club of all semblance of respect, past glories, results from the rest of 2010 and even hysterical calls for criminal charges to be laid, seems a little over the top.
Now, I don’t follow the NRL at all, but here’s an attempt at analysing the position.
Firstly, I find it hard to believe that NRL players could play any better if they were given a 10% pay rise. And anyway, all the reports are suggesting that the players were unaware of the overpayment, so team performance could not be affected by the “crime”.
Secondly, could the excess payments have resulted in one or more REALLY, REALLY GOOD players joining the team. Given that players were unaware of the overpayments, and given that everyone knows that the cap applied, I think that this is unlikely, particularly given the fact that really, really good players with the charisma needed to affect the overall team results will be making bucketloads of extra cash from personal sponsorship deals.
Thirdly, could the overpayments have made it possible for the club to recruit one or two good players (perhaps lacking charisma) than would otherwise have been the case. Plausible enough, but could this possibility have meant 2 championships? Unlikely.
I have always been intrigued by the fact that sports administrators take themselves way more seriously than any other group that I can think of, politicians and religious leaders included! But this fiasco really has to take the cake. Apart from the fact that it is blown out of all proportion, some of the details of the administrator’s actions are worthy of a Monty Python farce.
- The team is stripped of the championships but the players are not stripped of their gongs. So, the unfortunate players can say I won a NRL championship but I never played with a championship winning team!
- Teams which lost to the Storm still lost to them even though the Storm didn’t win. Eh?
- Gamblers who lost money backing championship losers still lost money even though the team that beat them didn’t win.
- Gamblers who won money backing championship winners still won money even though the team the backed didn’t win
- And gamblers on simple weekend games are in the same boat for the last FIVE years
So a lot of the stupidity arises from the fact that the gambling lobby still reigns supreme in Australia. Combining the power of the gambling lobby with the self-importance of the sports administrators leads to the conclusion that the winners didn’t loose, they just didn’t quite win. Yes, the only people who could make any sense of this lunacy would be the Monty Python script writers.
And, the suggestion seems to be that spending less than 10% more on salaries than the other clubs would be sufficient to garner the Storm at least two championships. If this is the case, it would seem that those championships are of little consequence. In fairness to all involved, it would be somewhat more fair, logical and equitable to punish the individuals who broke the rules, not everyone who had anything to do with those individuals for the last 5 years.
In truth, breaking some arbitary rules regarding the salaries of players, had little or nothing to do with the multiple successes of this sporting club. Nor is it a reflection on anyone or any organisation who was not knowingly directly involved in the breach of the rules of a sporting code.
So I return to my original question … What am I missing about all this? It can have little to do with the facts of the case, less to do with the significance of the amount of overpayment. And also, why did it take 5 years for this to be uncovered?
Finally, according to the Storm’s website they have currently 8,475 paying members. Compare this with more than 200,000 homeowners who continue to be affected by the government’s roof installation scandal.
Maybe one can feel sorry for the sacked and disgraced sports administrators — Peter Garrett earned a little more than a slap on the wrist for his efforts which were orders of magnitude more significant. As usual I remain amazed at the ability of our media to make mountains of molehills and to leave us to move mountains of injustice and stupidity without help.