Lattes or lagers?

Filed in NRL by on June 4, 2014

Today in the Sydney Morning Herald, Adrian Proszenko has written an article about the self imposed alcohol ban which the Sydney Roosters have put themselves on for the remainder of the 2014 season. You can check that story out here.

The reason that the Roosters have imposed this ‘booze ban’ is to get themselves back on track for this year and the idea came following an honesty session after the 42-10 loss to the Cowboys last month. This has not been the first time such a ban has been imposed, as there was a booze ban at the Roosters in place for most of the 2013 season.

If you have been following the Roosters performances this year you will know that they have been very up and down. Whilst there have been some performances which reflect the dominance that they had last year, there have been some very average performance. These ordinary performances, combined with the drama with Mitchell Pearce just 10 days before the State of Origin teams were announced and a team who, at that stage was still outside the top eight led the senior leadership team to suggest change.

In my opinion booze bans are a positive thing. It shows a commitment to the team, to training and to a goal, being to win a Premiership. It also shows an understanding of the negative impact which alcohol can have and absolutely prevents situations like that of Mitchell Pearce where he was removed from the Clovelly Hotel and then was involved with an incident with a woman at the Beach Haus nightclub in Kings Cross, leading to his arrest and an infringement notice for not leaving the premises. Remove alcohol from that situation and it is very unlikely that Pearce would have ended up in the situation it was in.

For me, the players are professional athletes and while fans might not expect their team to win every week, they certainly have an expectation that for the season this athletes will be in peak, physical condition. Alcohol can have a very big impact on this, particularly when athletes are drinking excessively. To me, excessive alcohol consumption is irresponsible by a player, particularly when they are essentially being paid to be in top physical shape for about half a year.

I must admit however, , I also am quite disappointed when teams enforce a booze ban, because it shows that the players are not disciplined enough to know when enough is enough.

This is an area where the NRL and the Clubs need to improve. Instead of out right bans we need to grow our athletes so we can have confidence in them to understand the implications of too much alcohol and how their behaviour not only impacts them, but also their teams. I know this is something the NRL is working on and we shouldn’t judge the behaviour of all NRL players based on the actions of a few.

Players should be allowed to go out and enjoy themselves and enjoy a drink in moderation. Players are human beings and with alcohol (unfortunately) being such a significant part of Australian society, we should be able to be confident enough in our players that they can enjoy a drink without it causing any problems.

However, if teams are confident that this is not the case, perhaps a booze ban is the way to go. Then at least, you hope that each member of the team is committed to the ban and has enough respect for the playing group to play by the rules.

The other issue that comes up when we talk about booze bans is how enforceable they are? Again this comes down to trust and commitment from the players to themselves and the team. Also, as booze bans often lead to an improvement in performance you would hope that this would be enough to encourage players to maintain abstinence.

Would love to know your thoughts!

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