With the latest NRL player, Mitchell Pearce, in hot water do the current generation of players feel they are entitled to do what they want or do they simply just have too much time on their hands?
Who would want to be the CEO of the National Rugby League? It seems that a week cannot go by where a player does the wrong thing. Mitchell Pearce has recently been the latest in a long list of high-profile players put under the spotlight. After simulating a lewd act on a dog and allegedly urinating on himself and a woman’s couch, his career looks to be in jeopardy. But, this isn’t the first time he hasn’t found himself out on the town and causing trouble. Only two years ago, Pearce looked to have made unwanted advances on a woman at a Kings Cross nightclub. While the charges were eventually dropped, he ultimately missed out on NSW first State of Origin victory in nine years and almost had his career ended then. So, surely after going through that ordeal, he would have learnt his lesson? Apparently not. This begs the question: what is going through the heads of these players every time they try to go out or before they get into trouble?
Pearce is a famous name in the rugby league community. His father, Wayne, was a legend for NSW and the Balmain Tigers and is highly regarded among everyone in the game. This has meant that ever since Mitchell was making his way through the grades, people were expecting him to be a superstar and the pressure obviously has been a burden on him. However, this cannot be seen as an excuse. Any young aspiring football player would love to be able to get the opportunities that have been afforded to Pearce and if he does survive the chop then it may prove that having the Pearce name could actually save his career.
While being a professional athlete can be physically demanding with training sessions most days and games on a weekend, there is still a considerable amount of downtime for them. As soon as the season ends the teams have their infamous ‘mad Monday’ celebrations and then go off on their way for a month or two before their pre-season training begins. This is a far cry from even 30 years ago where players had full-time jobs and still found time to train and play. While this would not be viable in today’s professional sport, players today need to realise they are role models and in the public spotlight so every decision they make will be heavily scrutinised, not just out and about but on social media as well.
The NRL has made attempts to encourage players to be more proactive with their careers as all players in the under 20s competition having to either work or be studying to play, educating players more on the dangers of social media and the effect of their behaviour can have on their careers can go a long way to hopefully reducing the amount of players spending just as much time in the court room as the football field.