Anthony Mundine has been reported urging Rugby League players to strike because $600,000 contracts are akin to “slave labour”.
I’m going to put aside, just for one moment, any comments about $600,000 being close to average house prices that most of us struggle to pay off over a 25 year period.
Instead, I’ll bring up the fact that most of the NRL clubs are losing money, not making it. Only four or five clubs, out of 16, are actually in a reasonable financial situation, according to Newcastle Knights CEO Steve Burraston’s comments during that episode of Insight.
You know the one, with Peter Holmes a Court’s awesome facial contortions every time Jason Taylor opened his mouth?
Any way, my point is that Anthony Mundine reckons that players on $600,000 are clearly living below the poverty line, and should strike so that they can get higher wages and bankrupt the clubs so that they don’t get any wages.
As an example, Anthony Mundine cites the case of Graeme Langlands who is apparently broke. Anthony uses this example even though the guy retired in 1976, a time when players tended to work part-time on top of football in order to make a living. Unlike the players today, who are on $600,000 contracts.
As I said, pork chop.
In case Anthony Mundine googles himself and comes across this page, I thought I might remind him about what slave labour really looks like with a few links.
In the spirit of being constructive, I’ll note that the problem isn’t really that NRL players aren’t paid enough, it’s that the NRL is losing out by top athletes jumping ship to other countries and other sports. Nothing is stopping the high-profile players from taking higher wages, and they are taking them in increasing numbers. It’s the NRL, and fans, that suffer through this.
One solution might be for the NRL to top up payments to Australian representative players or to other high-profile players. Cricket Australia and Rugby Union in Australia both offer representative players significant contracts on top of their club contracts. This might be a way of increasing the wages of top players, the ones most likely to be poached by other sports, without blowing the clubs’ balance sheets off the park.
p.s. MAny apologies for the lack of action on this blog lately. I’ve been horribly busy fitting into a new job and with other things. Geez it’s difficult to maintain these things.