Bravo for dealing with racism, now for sexism
Timana Tahu should be incredibly proud of himself and his family incredibly proud of him.
Not many people are prepared to put their money where there mouth is on issues of discrimination, and the impact of a player of Tahu’s stature taking the stand he has might mean something in the NRL actually changes.
Wouldn’t it be amazing if a player such as Tahu took a similar stand when instead of calling someone a “black c***”, like Andrew Johns did, a senior figure in the League calls someone a “dumb slut”?
Tahu’s actions have shown that when someone inside Rugby League says “I’ve had enough”, people listen.
It’s a lot more powerful than anything the media, the management, or a specially formed task force can do to address a well embedded cultural pattern.
Tahu says he did it for his children.
“I believe I am a role model for children and I did this to show my kids this type of behaviour is wrong,” he said. “This isn’t about me or Andrew Johns, it’s about arresting racism and standing up for my beliefs.”
I wish someone would show Tahu’s guts in dealing with the NRL’s long-standing cultural problem with women.
Where were the players who cared more about their sisters than their contracts when Matthew Johns was accused of ruining a young girl’s life with a group of his team mates in a New Zealand hotel room in 2002?
Phil Gould reacted with tear-stained horror, saying the incident exposed by the ABC’s Four Corners last year was a “wake-up call” to players.
“Our players have got to understand it doesn’t matter if you think you are in the right,” he said,” Gould said. It doesn’t matter if you think you have the green light, if it is perceived that it is OK to go across with this stuff it’s going to end in dramas - somewhere sometime it will come back to bite you on the arse and we’re all going to pay the penalty for it.”
But Gould’s message was delivered from the safety of a post-playing TV career. The current players kept their heads down.
Each fresh NRL sex scandal sees a fresh round of condemnation from outside the code. NRL Chief Executive David Gallop makes a speech about how ashamed he is.
High profile women involved in the game write newspaper columns and call for more women in management.
And another round of training in how not to be a bastard to the opposite sex is implemented.
None of it sends as powerful a message at Tahu walking out of the Blues Origin camp.
When the NSW team ran onto the field last night without the dual-international, and without the support of their mentor Andrew Johns in the dressing room, at least some of them might have thought about why they ended up in this situation.
A couple of them might even have modified their language, and vowed to think twice before they let go a string of slurs they used to think were harmless.
Because people outside the dressing room can lecture as much as they want about multiculturalism, respect and human decency. Until the debate enters that room it’s meaningless.
And until the players themselves stand up for their daughters, sisters, cousins and friends as well, some things will never change.
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