It’s more than Rugby

The ABC’s Four Corners programme exposing the ugly depths of misogyny in the NRL raises broader questions, requiring the attention of far more sectors of our society than the NRL itself. Among the programme’s final visuals was a clip of a team running onto the ground through a cheer squad made up of attractive young women dressed for attention.

The attitudes of some of the players are unspeakable, for sure. But why the surprise that this should be so? Top level sport in Australia continues to absorb uncritically much of the public culture perfected in the US. Entertainment is the name of game, and the action in the middle is no longer sufficient. To the traditional cocktail of booze and club passion must now be added penetrating bass-rich music with the gyrations of scantily clad women in the spotlight. Cricket, we thought had escaped, but the advent of Twenty20 and the IPL has seen to that too.

If sport’s leaders and marketers give the players and their fans reason to suppose that women are for drooling, they needn’t be too shocked when it’s taken to heart.

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