How to cheer for d***heads

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SeaEagleRock8

Sea Eagle Lach
Premium Member
Tipping Member
How to cheer for dickheads.

I started writing this last year, but on the eve of this particular Team List Tuesday it seems topical, so I was moved to dig it out and I just finished it off now.

There’s a modern phenomenon which wasn’t really a factor way back when I was a kid and first became aware of sport stars, and began following Manly in rugby league: nowadays, players’ character is almost as widely reported as their on-field results. And under this close examination many of them don’t come up smelling of roses.

Not just in footy of course. Scandals led to the resignation of the last two Australian Test cricket captains. Tennis champion Djokovich caught lying. Golfers accepting millions in so-called Saudi sportswash money. Swimmers and cyclists using PEDs. Sports stars caught for domestic violence, drug abuse. Child abuse! You name it.

As a kid I saw the odd newspaper or Rugby League Week photo of Manly’s rivals, and to me they looked like dangerous, scary thugs. So the Manly players who went out to face them each week, and stood up to them, must by definition have been the good guys. Heroes! Bravely fighting for honour and decency. I wasn’t totally naïve as a child, but it was all too easy for my imagination to fill in those blanks.

Contrast that with the information flood in today’s world. It must be almost impossible for modern kids to form those naïve fantasies. And what about for grown-up fans - is it a different sort of support we offer? When we know some of our favourite sports stars are people we may prefer to avoid meeting.

I think it is different. It’s a little more arm’s length, a little more qualified, a more conditional support.

Perhaps oddly, I don’t find this an entirely negative development. If the glossy image of the chiselled athlete bravely engaging in sporting battle for noble purpose is in large part exposed as a fiction… well, exposing fictions isn’t a bad thing, surely! It’s pretty bloody hard nowadays to imagine the sporting contest as good v evil. Or even as the good guys (my team) v the bad guys. Or even a good town or suburb, because now our players come from all over.

Professional sport is increasingly in plain view. An entertainment industry. All about big business making a lot of profit by selling things. Sure, it provides us with a captivating diversion. A necessary distraction from our 5-day grind. So the wheels of industry can roll on and on, and even bigger businesses can carry on making even greater profits.

And as the sport industry is progressively exposed, so too are its individuals. The players in professional sport are increasingly revealed in all their human frailty. Not always the wisest, not the noblest, not the fairest, nor even the best-intentioned.

And loyalty? In NRL we have players hopping between clubs - even mid-season – and this shines quite a different light on their level of allegiance to the cause. Of course, they need to make a living, we cannot begrudge them that. And for many, commitment to their current team is but one small consideration, especially for those on the fringes of stardom. All up, nowadays we are getting a much fuller picture of who they are – and turns out they’re just as flawed as we are! Possibly even worse, because the single-mindedness, the aggression, and ruthlessness they require to succeed in NRL won't always be positive traits outside the game.

However, there is another side of this coin. Knowing more about the players personal lives means we are also more aware of the sacrifices they make to attain the elite level. In NRL, for example, the strict diets and lifestyle restrictions. The routine off-season surgeries. The gruesome injuries (replayed on TV from different angles in super slo-mo). The protruding bones. The fits and convulsions as the body of an unconscious player shudders somewhere between life and death. The crushed larynx, the broken neck. It’s all there for our information and entertainment. Not to mention, getting to read all about the hardships players are put through during preseason. To toughen them physically, but also mentally. And we get to see interviews with players talking about the emotional stress that can come with long term injuries, or the loneliness of being away from the squad when stuck for months in a rehab program. And we are learning - at the same pace as players - more and more about the risks of premature dementia as a possible consequence of concussive injuries that are common for those playing the game. We see the mental health of players laid bare when they post disclosing how they shed tears after receiving via social media torrents of less-than-enthusiastic-endorsement of their performance on the field that day, in other words, full-on abuse.

As a fan my support feels quite different now than it was even 15 or 20 years ago. I still want Manly to win every week, that cannot change. But something has changed.

In decades gone I was blissfully ignorant of the personal situation of those players. They wore the Manly jumper, they played rugby league, so they must be pretty good guys. After all, since childhood I’d believed that Manly was morally good because they stood up to and overcame those thugs of Souths, deadbeats of Parramatta, and hooligans of Wests.

Nowadays, though, I’m forced to confront the reality. One of our recent stars had a conviction for kicking his pregnant wife in the stomach. Another budding star, for whom I had wildly cheered, sits languishing in jail for stabbing a man in the back. From the sickening to the embarrassing, an iconic club legend and Churchill medalist publicly espousing crazy sovereign citizen beliefs. What on earth!!

So there is one part of it - the increased visibility of our high-profile sports people. Back in the day the sports journos were good at protecting the clubs by keeping player indiscretions and humiliations out of the news. Nowadays it is inevitable that the gruesome or bizarre stories will come out, so the journos actually have to race each other to be the first to publish.

But there is another part, too, which is simply that societal values continue to change over time.

Joey Johns had to resign from an Origin camp over the sort of racial slur that had been commonplace for decades, not just in rugby league but generally in the wider community. AFB’s referee abuse was considered far more serious because he used the word “retard”. Public awareness around things such as domestic violence and drink driving have undergone massive shifts over time. Last year we had a chunk of our squad unable to bring themselves to even take the field because the jersey represented acceptance of homosexuals. When before, in the entire history of the game, has that issue ever been something about which players had to disclose their attitudes? In fact, for most of the time rugby league has existed it was probably assumed by most that everyone in the change room hated gays. Suddenly in 2023 admitting to that is controversial in the extreme.

So to now - as fans of a sport like rugby league we’re left with a direct and quite uncomfortable question: how to cheer for dickheads? Obviously not all players are dickheads. But, as we know, all too explicitly nowadays, they aren’t comic book heroes either, they are human - so it’s fair to expect there’s a little dickhead in most, and in some there is a level of dickheadedness impossible to ignore.

As I hinted at the beginning, Manly’s signing of Mathew Lodge this week has been the impetus for me digging out this piece, and when I did, I realised … I hadn’t finished it. And my answer to the question is, still: I don’t know. I still want to cheer for my team, in fact deciding not to care about the team’s fortunes is not even an option for me. So I’ll care. And no doubt watch games on TV, or replays. But go to a game? I don’t know. Will I support more quietly? Less proudly? And let’s face it, the club is not even the same entity it was years ago when I first became a fan, and neither is the game. Professionalism, private ownership, it’s a business, a media product used for promotion of gambling and alcohol.

But yet, the athletes are outstanding, and brave. And those colours have such a history!

So, how to cheer for dickheads? Any ideas welcome, as I'm stumped.
 

Ned

Bencher
How to cheer for dickheads.

I started writing this last year, but on the eve of this particular Team List Tuesday it seems topical, so I was moved to dig it out and I just finished it off now.

There’s a modern phenomenon which wasn’t really a factor way back when I was a kid and first became aware of sport stars, and began following Manly in rugby league: nowadays, players’ character is almost as widely reported as their on-field results. And under this close examination many of them don’t come up smelling of roses.

Not just in footy of course. Scandals led to the resignation of the last two Australian Test cricket captains. Tennis champion Djokovich caught lying. Golfers accepting millions in so-called Saudi sportswash money. Swimmers and cyclists using PEDs. Sports stars caught for domestic violence, drug abuse. Child abuse! You name it.

As a kid I saw the odd newspaper or Rugby League Week photo of Manly’s rivals, and to me they looked like dangerous, scary thugs. So the Manly players who went out to face them each week, and stood up to them, must by definition have been the good guys. Heroes! Bravely fighting for honour and decency. I wasn’t totally naïve as a child, but it was all too easy for my imagination to fill in those blanks.

Contrast that with the information flood in today’s world. It must be almost impossible for modern kids to form those naïve fantasies. And what about for grown-up fans - is it a different sort of support we offer? When we know some of our favourite sports stars are people we may prefer to avoid meeting.

I think it is different. It’s a little more arm’s length, a little more qualified, a more conditional support.

Perhaps oddly, I don’t find this an entirely negative development. If the glossy image of the chiselled athlete bravely engaging in sporting battle for noble purpose is in large part exposed as a fiction… well, exposing fictions isn’t a bad thing, surely! It’s pretty bloody hard nowadays to imagine the sporting contest as good v evil. Or even as the good guys (my team) v the bad guys. Or even a good town or suburb, because now our players come from all over.

Professional sport is increasingly in plain view. An entertainment industry. All about big business making a lot of profit by selling things. Sure, it provides us with a captivating diversion. A necessary distraction from our 5-day grind. So the wheels of industry can roll on and on, and even bigger businesses can carry on making even greater profits.

And as the sport industry is progressively exposed, so too are its individuals. The players in professional sport are increasingly revealed in all their human frailty. Not always the wisest, not the noblest, not the fairest, nor even the best-intentioned.

And loyalty? In NRL we have players hopping between clubs - even mid-season – and this shines quite a different light on their level of allegiance to the cause. Of course, they need to make a living, we cannot begrudge them that. And for many, commitment to their current team is but one small consideration, especially for those on the fringes of stardom. All up, nowadays we are getting a much fuller picture of who they are – and turns out they’re just as flawed as we are! Possibly even worse, because the single-mindedness, the aggression, and ruthlessness they require to succeed in NRL won't always be positive traits outside the game.

However, there is another side of this coin. Knowing more about the players personal lives means we are also more aware of the sacrifices they make to attain the elite level. In NRL, for example, the strict diets and lifestyle restrictions. The routine off-season surgeries. The gruesome injuries (replayed on TV from different angles in super slo-mo). The protruding bones. The fits and convulsions as the body of an unconscious player shudders somewhere between life and death. The crushed larynx, the broken neck. It’s all there for our information and entertainment. Not to mention, getting to read all about the hardships players are put through during preseason. To toughen them physically, but also mentally. And we get to see interviews with players talking about the emotional stress that can come with long term injuries, or the loneliness of being away from the squad when stuck for months in a rehab program. And we are learning - at the same pace as players - more and more about the risks of premature dementia as a possible consequence of concussive injuries that are common for those playing the game. We see the mental health of players laid bare when they post disclosing how they shed tears after receiving via social media torrents of less-than-enthusiastic-endorsement of their performance on the field that day, in other words, full-on abuse.

As a fan my support feels quite different now than it was even 15 or 20 years ago. I still want Manly to win every week, that cannot change. But something has changed.

In decades gone I was blissfully ignorant of the personal situation of those players. They wore the Manly jumper, they played rugby league, so they must be pretty good guys. After all, since childhood I’d believed that Manly was morally good because they stood up to and overcame those thugs of Souths, deadbeats of Parramatta, and hooligans of Wests.

Nowadays, though, I’m forced to confront the reality. One of our recent stars had a conviction for kicking his pregnant wife in the stomach. Another budding star, for whom I had wildly cheered, sits languishing in jail for stabbing a man in the back. From the sickening to the embarrassing, an iconic club legend and Churchill medalist publicly espousing crazy sovereign citizen beliefs. What on earth!!

So there is one part of it - the increased visibility of our high-profile sports people. Back in the day the sports journos were good at protecting the clubs by keeping player indiscretions and humiliations out of the news. Nowadays it is inevitable that the gruesome or bizarre stories will come out, so the journos actually have to race each other to be the first to publish.

But there is another part, too, which is simply that societal values continue to change over time.

Joey Johns had to resign from an Origin camp over the sort of racial slur that had been commonplace for decades, not just in rugby league but generally in the wider community. AFB’s referee abuse was considered far more serious because he used the word “retard”. Public awareness around things such as domestic violence and drink driving have undergone massive shifts over time. Last year we had a chunk of our squad unable to bring themselves to even take the field because the jersey represented acceptance of homosexuals. When before, in the entire history of the game, has that issue ever been something about which players had to disclose their attitudes? In fact, for most of the time rugby league has existed it was probably assumed by most that everyone in the change room hated gays. Suddenly in 2023 admitting to that is controversial in the extreme.

So to now - as fans of a sport like rugby league we’re left with a direct and quite uncomfortable question: how to cheer for dickheads? Obviously not all players are dickheads. But, as we know, all too explicitly nowadays, they aren’t comic book heroes either, they are human - so it’s fair to expect there’s a little dickhead in most, and in some there is a level of dickheadedness impossible to ignore.

As I hinted at the beginning, Manly’s signing of Mathew Lodge this week has been the impetus for me digging out this piece, and when I did, I realised … I hadn’t finished it. And my answer to the question is, still: I don’t know. I still want to cheer for my team, in fact deciding not to care about the team’s fortunes is not even an option for me. So I’ll care. And no doubt watch games on TV, or replays. But go to a game? I don’t know. Will I support more quietly? Less proudly? And let’s face it, the club is not even the same entity it was years ago when I first became a fan, and neither is the game. Professionalism, private ownership, it’s a business, a media product used for promotion of gambling and alcohol.

But yet, the athletes are outstanding, and brave. And those colours have such a history!

So, how to cheer for dickheads? Any ideas welcome, as I'm stumped.
Maybe supporting a footy team it too much for some people, might be time to hang your cap mate.
 

Brookie Bob

"I come back to you now at the turn of the tide"
I imagine everyone's been a dickhead at some point or another; perhaps only differing in the amount or severity.

If we don't cheer for dickheads - we won't be cheering for anyone.
 

Ned

Bencher
You're a good man ser8, but
clint-eastwood-magnum-force.gif
 

Budgie

In for the long haul.
2016 Tipping Competitor
Tipping Member
Great Post SER8. Covers so much I struggle with in the modern game, particularly the private ownership, it just doesn't feel like a club anymore, our club ... because it's not.

As for the dickheads, I cheered all versions of our team but never individually Les Boyd, Hoppa Snr, or AFB. Similarly, I will not cheer Lodge. Aloaia is another I can't cheer. Others walk a fine line like Dylan Walker because there is nuance about what they've done and their life circumstances.

You're right about sport as entertainment. I came to this a long time ago and thus feel mightily for the sacrifices of those who make our weekly escape from reality.

Meanwhile, go the mighty Maroon and White ... or whatever colours our 'club' has decided there might be a dollar in on any given week!

 

BOZO

Journey Man
Tipping Member
So, how to cheer for dickheads? Any ideas welcome, as I'm stumped.
Good morning and thank you for that great effort write up which makes of some interesting reading .

The Inspiration and hope we can derive from dickheads is that they can and have risen above mediocrity and there is hope for all of us when we fall as none of us are perfect and we can all be dicks from time to time

Here are some examples of Dickhead Inspirations

Will Smith — aggravated assault, criminal conspiracy.​

Bill Gates — driving without a license and speeding.​

Bruno Mars — drug possession.​

Carmen Electra — assault and battery.​

. Stephen Fry — credit card fraud.​

More on the list​

 
Last edited:

Mark from Brisbane

“ Boomer still Booming”
Premium Member
Tipping Member
Exceptionally well written, and the conundrum many would be facing.

I’m not nearly as “ invested “ in the team as I once was and this is due to very few of them being “ Manly men “.

Most are just journeymen , in it for the $$$, or despite being taken care of by the club in their junior years they’ll jump ship for a few more $$$ without compunction.

So with this in mind do I really give a **** what they do off field ,or might have done ( what can you believe these days ) or what they’ve done well in the past!!

The answer is NO.

They aren’t my circle of friends , I don’t know them other than on the field and have no interest in meeting them socially.

I haven’t been to a “ meet the players” function for a decade and have zero interest in doing so.

Why ??

Easy, players like Eadie , Randall, Fulton were my heroes.

The current players, bar just a few , are just mercenaries.

That’s how I handle it @SeaEagleRock8
 
Last edited:
Good morning and thank you for that great effort write up which makes of some interesting reading .

The Inspiration and hope we can derive from dickheads is that they can and have risen above mediocrity and there is hope for all of us when we fall as none of us are perfect and we can all be dicks from time to time

Here are some examples of Dickhead Inspirations

Will Smith — aggravated assault, criminal conspiracy.​

Bill Gates — driving without a license and speeding.​

Bruno Mars — drug possession.​

Carmen Electra — assault and battery.​

. Stephen Fry — credit card fraud.​

More on the list​

Carmen Electra - I can't think of any atrocity she could commit that would see me stop cheering for her
 

manly al

First Grader
R L footy is just a microcosm of life or society in general and as it would apply to any other higher profile sporting entity . Bit more in the spotlight in the age of digital technology and social media but everything in generational perspective in the main.
No doubt has evolved into a more focused business and professional model but with players fully professional and a lot more free time and money at their disposal , just that bit more tendency to go off the rails a bit depending on their individual circumstances and mindset .
Lodge has apparently got over his previous behavioral issues , as long as he conducts himself both on and off the field with his Manly stay sensibly ,[ and especially has a decent crack on it for Manly ] should still be accepted with some general goodwill.
Manly fan- player meeting days in recent seasons still seem to have positive and well received outcomes so all good to a reasonable degree just from an overall club situation
 

Kiwi Eagle

Moderator
Staff member
Pretty weird how everyone just assumed Fainu was innocent and were more than happy to blindly back him but no one is willing to give Lodge the time of day.
Get the point to an extent, but are they close to the same comparison when one is going through the process of a trial, and one was already guilty and convicted ?

You could draw that line where it was a he said/she said case where his ex girlfriend claimed that he was physically and verbally abusing to her during the relationship, but the New York stuff he was stone cold guilty on, which is the position we are now in with Fainu
 

LeonardCohen

Bencher
it’s simple - we are the club (the members and fans). Players, administrators and even owners come and go, but the rusted on members and fans, our name, our jumper and our rich history IS the club! Lodge will come and Lodge and go and still our club remains.

That’s what I cheer for each week - my club. Current club representatives and winning and losing is transient; I’ve never understood turning away from the club because we are losing. Winning and losing is cyclical and so are the dickheads that sometimes wear the jumper!
 

Tragic Eagle

Tragic
Premium Member
Tipping Member
Not one squad in the NRL is a group of choir boys. There have been plenty of dickheads that have played NRL throughout the ages and there are plenty of dickheads in all professions.The problem for the NRL is that the sport is a showcase screened to millions. Off field behaviour is a social issue especially the poor treatment of women which is not limited to professional NRL players.

The NRL allowing players back into the big show after Jail time has troubled me the most. Yes we need to promote rehabilitation, but the game covers our screens for 9 months of the year and is followed by adults and children of all ages and the players fortunate enough to star in that big show are seen as heroes by our children.

To play in the NRL should be a privilege not a right. Therefore they need to be role models setting example. To be sentenced to full time imprisonment means that the offence is extremely serious and socially unacceptable. Rehabilitation should not require reinstatement back into the big show. The concept of rehabilitation that is commonly referred to in the context of sentencing is to be reintroduced back into the community as a law abiding individual. There needs to be a line drawn by the NRL.

Complexity occurs in circumstances where players are convicted of offences that do not attract a sentence of full time imprisonment and the need again to draw the line in the sand. The controversy over the no conviction stand down rule highlights how difficult it is to get it right.

Then after conviction what are the appropriate sanctions? Are there any offences that do not result in Jail time that should see a player never permitted to play in the NRL again. I do think that a conviction for a sexual assault regardless of sentence should make a player ineligible to play in the NRL again. It is a minefield for the NRL with plenty of potential for legal challenge.

I barrack for club and my favourite players.
 

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