For many centuries, those philosophers with a keen understanding of human nature have advised that keeping expectations low was an excellent way of receiving positive outcomes.
The off-season for the NRL had fewer player shenanigans than in some years previous, or at least it seems so.
People expect rugby players to act out and the expectations that the off-season would provide frequent instances of bad behaviour made the relative lack thereof seem almost as though the footballers had reprinted and joined the church choir.
Sam Burgess characterized off-season rugby player behaviour as, “As good as it’s been.” He obviously subscribes to the concept of realising positive outcomes as the result of modest expectations.
Others are quick to counter, with claims that the off-season has been one where the usual controversies are still going on, citing as examples Jack de Belin, Jarryd Hayne and Dylan Walker, all of whom are faced with serious charges.
Burgess, as captain of Souths, does carry an obligation to present his code in the best possible light.
He made his comments in the context of saying that the off-season scrutiny of rugby league players is more intense than it ever has been.
“We all have a responsibility to grow the game,” Burgess said, at a NRL launch occasion for Fox Sports. “There’s been some terrible coverage in the press but player behaviour is probably as good as it’s been over the years. It’s just more reported on, things catch fire a lot quicker. For all the negative press, there’s some fantastic role models and great players.”
Some observers with longer perspectives, with an inclination to be cynical, will remark that as soon as the Telstra 2019 NRL Premiership competition gets underway, player behaviour will be improved and the attention shifted to which coach, despite leading a team to finals last year or recent years past, should be fired because their club has not secured the premiership by the fifth round.
There is an easy solution. Have the NRL play year round and the players will look like true role models.