NRL, AFL: zero tolerance is the answer 

There’s always someone, somewhere, spoiling the party.

And that’s more true in sport than in any other walk of life.

What’s more, no sport is immune from the immutable law of the dickhead. Not these days anyway.

And the dickhead in question is usually male. No, make that is always male. I just can’t remember a female athlete making a goose of herself.

So, back to the dickheads: There may have been a time when sports such as tennis, cricket and golf were played by gentlemen, but those days are long gone. Let’s put cycling in the mix too, since it’s not just about booze and sex, it’s also about drugs, the performance enhancing variety.

But since the most popular sports are the football codes, it is interesting to see how they have evolved in the past 100 years.

Speaking of football, we must separate soccer, because their dickheads are in the terraces, not on the field.

Which is the opposite to the rugby codes and Australian football, where the players behave like they have exclusive access to the dickhead mentality. It’s a bit like a monopoly.

In soccer, they too have someone, somewhere, spoiling the party, and it’s usually ‘‘fans’’ brawling with each other in public or lighting and throwing flares during a game.

The players themselves, while not exactly gentlemen in the old sense of the word, are reasonably well behaved on and off the field, and night time atrocities are almost as rare  as hens’ teeth. For example, I think Socceroo legend Tim Cahill was once spotted in a Sydney pub after 10pm. Wow, call in the fun nazis, pronto.

The only thing our soccer players are guilty of is some very poor acting skills while trying to milk a penalty; other than that the game is in good hands from a marketing point of view.

But the two current giants of popular sport in Australia, the AFL and the NRL, have the opposite problem: games mostly watched by gentlemen (and ladies) and played, in part, by dickheads. 

   They’re what we’re talking about — the someone, somewhere, spoiling the party.

All very talented, mind you, and both codes are capable of offering tremendous entertainment to the masses.

The question is: unless dickheads are given the flick via a zero tolerance policy, who will be left that is prepared to pay to watch them? Families, I think, will eventually vote with their feet, and take their entertainment dollars somewhere else. They are probably already doing it but if the footy codes are not careful the stream may become a raging river.

We’re in Sydney, so I want to finish on rugby league, a game I love, a game I have followed for nearly 50 years, but also a game I am worried about.

 While it is definitely a magnificent game that just gets better and better on the field, the actions of some players are causing it serious damage.

They are a small minority, but they are spoiling it for everyone else.

The rest of the players, the bulk in each team, are wonderful young men. They have a stake in protecting the game, so they should be doing whatever they can to put an end to the off field atrocities.

But the full answer lies in a strong stand by all 16 clubs and the NRL, and a strong stand against these people means just one thing: one strike and you’re out.

The Wests Tigers did that just this week and they ought to be commended.

I get the feeling that even dickheads may get the message  before long if every other club does the same.