MAL MENINGA Start spreading good news
TODD Greenberg’s comments over the weekend about the need for all rugby league stakeholders to embrace the game rather than continually taking potshots at it struck a chord with me here in San Francisco.
For the past couple of weeks, members of the Kangaroos staff and I have been in the US to look at the way sports and businesses are run in the biggest commercial market in the world, and what lessons we can take back to improve rugby league.
Todd’s comments reinforced a key factor that we had picked up across America’s most successful organisations – everyone involved in its success genuinely cares about it.
With Major League Baseball, everything they do is for the betterment of the game.
They pour huge resources into junior development and overseas programs – not because they are being protectionist against other sports, but because they want more people to join the sport they love.
And they know the more people they have playing the game in America and around the world, the stronger the sport will become.
The Ultimate Fighting Championship, the UFC, is the fastest-growing sport in the world. It is not by fluke.
UFC is a sport that knows its own identity. It knows what it stands for and has no intention of altering that view.
Some people hate it and UFC is OK with that. But millions more love it and its audience gets bigger every day.
The New York Police Department is an organisation that boasts an absolutely united front among its members.
Everyone involved in the NYPD is proud of that fact.
Its members support each other and passionately defend each other as well.
The NYPD is a tough organisation to market positively, simply because of what they do for a living. It is tough to put a positive spin on fighting violent crimes or drug cases.
But the NYPD goes to great lengths to make the point that this is not all they do.
Every day the department produces a lot of positive stories as well and they get the members of the NYPD to tell them.
Every officer in the force is given a mobile phone by the department and when they have a positive story to tell, or have an interesting story about their working day, they all have social media channels they can use to tell the public.
Looking at what sports are doing in the US, I can tell you now there is not a lot of things that rugby league is doing well.
As a sport on the world stage, it stands on its own two feet.
But look back through those examples of positive messaging across baseball, UFC and the NYPD and tell me how rugby league stacks up against these examples.
There are lessons to be learnt. Yes, rugby league needs to get out of this decades-old habit of self-sabotage by people who claim to love the game, or who live and work within the game itself.
But the game can be working smarter to get the positive message across.
The game needs to let the players be our voices.
Is a positive message from the Gold Coast going to get more cut-through from an email sent to their membership base of 9000, or by Konrad Hurrell sending the message about the Titans to his 161,000 followers on Instagram?
If we want rugby league to truly be “the greatest game of all”, then we need to start acting like it.
SPORTING CHANC E: A young LA Dodgers fan at a MLB game, Titans and social media star Konrad Hurrell (bottom left) and fight fans outside UFC 223 at Barclays Centre in Brooklyn.