Tag Archives: Manly

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Channel 9’s awful gamble, broken lives, and betting on Jesus

I love Rugby League. I love the Manly Warringah Sea Eagles. Say what you will – but League is faster, more exhilarating, and more straightforward than the boot-strapped game of chess and stoppages that is Rugby Union.

I love league. I hate the gambling industry. It’s an awful, poisonous industry that wrecks lives – financially and spiritually. I want to make a distinction here between small stakes poker, a casual bet on the outcome of a grudge match between two friends, raffles, Melbourne Cup sweeps at lunch, and perhaps even gambling as a form of entertainment, free of greed (if that’s possible), and the industry that has set itself up on the back of our love for a punt that makes huge profits by destroying lives. I do some of those things from time to time, but mostly avoid them as a wisdom issue, rather than a moral issue. But the gambling industry thrives on creating addicts and sustaining their addictions. It takes money from people and offers nothing tangible in return. It’s a parasite.

I’m not suggesting the individuals who get lured in and caught up in the web of the gambling industry are devoid of responsibility in their decision to gamble – but if gambling stops them meeting their other responsibilities – like feeding their families, then the gambling industry, the sporting industry, and the viewing audience, have the responsibility to stop enabling that sort of destruction. Responsible gambling is an oxymoron. The nature of a gamble is that it involves risk. The nature of an industry that generates that sort of profits by taking other people’s money, and giving them nothing in return (except a cheap, momentary, thrill) is “irresponsible,” not “responsible.

What makes me saddest is that the gambling industry is all about greed – and greed is an example of the rejection of God that the Bible calls idolatry.

So now I have a dilemma. Because the game I love is in bed with this industry that I hate.

Tom Waterhouse is a bookmaker who has signed a multi-million dollar deal with the NRL and Channel 9 to be a broadcast partner of the National Rugby League. That’s $50 million, and $15 million, that Waterhouse’s company has ripped out of the pockets of Australians – a fraction of their profits, and presumably a fraction of the money they stand to make from the arrangement.

Somehow this deal earned him a seat at the table when it came to 9’s coverage – he became a commentator, and his contribution was helping gamblers understand the various implications of Friday night’s game between the Brisbane Broncos and the mighty Sea Eagles (who won, in a thrilling second half comeback).

I didn’t catch the Tom Waterhouse Show on Friday night because I was at the game. Live. With my daughter.

It was her first game of football – and I’m very much looking forward to indoctrinating teaching her about the game, and how to appreciate it (even if Robyn wants her to love that other code).

Sadly, I won’t be able to do that using Channel 9’s coverage. There’s a bigger question about whether or not I’ll be able to teach her about any professional sport if the continued enmeshment of sport and gambling goes unchecked, that’s a deeper issue that needs a resolution, but the “in your face” nature of the coverage is an immediate concern.

The gambling industry preys on broken people and guarantees ongoing failure. Jesus offers restoration to broken people and a secure future.

I’m not into censoring too much when it comes to parenting – I’m happy to sit down with my daughter – and her yet to be born sibling(s) – and talk about what we watch together. I’ll do that with all sorts of cultural texts, because I want my kids to learn about the world we live in, and to be able to critically engage with the arts.

That’s something I’m really looking forward to – I want my kids to be able to parse cultural texts for meaning, and I want them to be able to use culture to reach people with the gospel.

Sadly, thanks to Channel 9’s decision to get in bed with an industry that destroys lives without remorse, their coverage of the Rugby League will now be one of those things I keep away from my kids until they’re in their teens. And by then it might be too late. By then they’ll probably love Rugby Union or some other inferior product.

I can appreciate that some parents prefer to keep harmful ideas away from their children. But that’s not my style. Obviously there are certain things that I want to introduce them to at certain points of maturity – and I think the secular classification board does a pretty good job at picking what is appropriate for different ages, and we’ll probably err on the side of caution.

But that’s not really what’s behind my thinking.

I’m not shielding my kids from gambling – I hope they’ll be sensible enough to understand how to approach concepts like “responsibility” and “greed”… But I don’t think I can be a responsible participant in society if I teach my kids that it’s ok to benefit from exploiting others.

I don’t mind talking to my kids about gambling, money and greed from the moment they’re born – I don’t even mind the casual bet with a couple of mates about the outcome of football games – but I refuse to take part, as a viewer, in enabling the destruction of lives. And I don’t want to model any sort of support for this selling out of others for my own entertainment or financial gain to my kids. Turning 9’s coverage off is one of the ways I’m going to make a stand.

Gambling is poisonous. It trashes lives. It tears families apart. Plenty of people have pointed out that the head of 9’s commentary team is a recovering gambling addict, and the face of the NRL – one of the game’s most scintillating players, has just checked in to a facility to deal with his gambling addiction which has left his life, and his family’s life, in tatters.

This decision by Channel 9 to throw people under the bus for the sake of their crumbling bottom line is a horribly tangible example of how broken our world is. They’ve taken a great thing – sport – a gift from God. And trashed it. And used it to trash lives. For their own gain.

I love sport because it teaches us good things about life. Individual sport teaches us about pursuing goals, working hard, and the value of discipline. Team sport teaches us about teamwork, selflessness, the value of a common cause, and camaraderie.

There’s a reason Paul uses sporting language to describe life following Jesus.

Here’s what he says in 1 Corinthians 9…

24 Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one gets the prize? Run in such a way as to get the prize. 25 Everyone who competes in the games goes into strict training. They do it to get a crown that will not last, but we do it to get a crown that will last forever. 26 Therefore I do not run like someone running aimlessly; I do not fight like a boxer beating the air. 27 No, I strike a blow to my body and make it my slave so that after I have preached to others, I myself will not be disqualified for the prize.”

Sport is good – Paul says physical exercise is of some value – but what really counts in life is your spiritual health (1 Timothy 4:8). The real tragedy of Channel 9’s awful decision to enable problem gambling is that they’re taking something good, and not only not keeping it in perspective with eternal, spiritual matters – but they’re using it to destroy lives both physically (as families fall into poverty) and spiritually, as people get trapped in a cycle of greed that leaves them rejecting the God who made us, and sport – to serve the pursuit of money through a system that is rigged against them, and only works if people lose more than they win.

Greed is a horrible thing – not just because it involves trashing other people for your own gain, and ultimately trashing yourself in the relentless pursuit of more, but because it involves putting the pursuit of wealth in the place God should occupy. Paul calls this idolatry (in Ephesians 5:5).

For of this you can be sure: No immoral, impure or greedy person—such a person is an idolater—has any inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and of God.

Jesus puts it a little more clearly – using slightly less theologically loaded language in Matthew chapter 6.

24 “No one can serve two masters. Either you will hate the one and love the other, or you will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and money.

He says this off the back of saying that storing up wealth now – pursuing wealth – is stupid because it’s not going to last. And that’s the real stupidity at the heart of gambling – it’s about taking huge risks for long odds on short term rewards. Even if you win now – the one certainty is that when you die, your winnings aren’t going with you.

Gambling is hopeless. It comes out of brokenness and leads to more brokenness.

Without Jesus, not gambling is a good idea for your personal finances – but it ultimately leaves us less poor,  still broken, and still losing at the end, when we die.

Jesus gives hope. And his life offers a real solution to brokenness. And a safe investment.

From Matthew 6 again…

19 “Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moths and vermin destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. 20 But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moths and vermin do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. 21 For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.

I love this Colin Buchanan song about the real hope Jesus offers (on Spotify) (or YouTube).

“I bet all I have on Jesus
I will throw myself on him
The one who died a real death for real sin
I bet all I have on Jesus
Throughout eternity
I will marvel at the real hope my Saviour won for me”

I hate the gambling industry. I hate that it preys on the weak and vulnerable with almost Darwinian antipathy leaving the weak weaker, and the poor poorer, and I hate that its insidious poison can turn functional and successful people into train wrecks who wreak havoc on the lives of those who love them. So there’s no way I’ll be able to watch Channel 9 destroy lives each week.

Here’s an ad from GetUp exposing some of the rhetoric the pro-gambling types use to justify the destruction of lives for financial gain after the NRL sided with the pokie industry when the Australian Government wanted to do something to make gambling more difficult.

Until Channel 9 extracts itself from this situation where its participating in the destruction of Australian families, undermining everything that’s great about sport, I’ll be listening on the radio or signing up for Foxtel. It’d be nice if the NRL stood up too and separated itself from the poison that threatens so many of those involved in the game – and the people who watch it and look up to its stars – rather than buying into the same greed that fuels that brokenness and perpetuating the problem.

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Those Mormon ads, and how to kill a high profile media campaign…

I just saw the first Mormon ad to feature high profile league player, and grand final winner with the mighty Manly Warringah Sea Eagles, Will Hopoate. Sharp. They’re a great ad for Manly. And, like all the ads in this campaign, are visually appealing and tightly produced.

There was a higher profile League star than Hopoate – Dizzy Izzy Folau. Israel has been out of the spotlight in the last year because he made a big money switch to AFL. To a team that doesn’t exist yet.

Luckily the Mormons didn’t feature Israel in their ads. Because he recently turned his back on the cult, publicly, during this campaign.

And here’s what he had to say… and that, friends, is how to harpoon a campaign.

“I had a personal experience with the holy spirit touching my heart,” Folau told AAP.

“I’ve never felt that before while I was involved in the Mormon church – until I came to the AOG church and accepted Christ.

“It’s been an amazing experience for me personally and I know a lot of people on the outside have been saying stuff about why we left.

“And some people (are) assuming that we left because of money, and all that sort of stuff.

“I know for myself that it wasn’t.

“But I guess at the moment, the people on the outside don’t really know the main reason why we left.”

The 22-year-old instigated the change himself after researching the history of Mormonism, and said the move was easy to make.

Folau’s friends have been understanding and supportive for the most part, but he admits it has been hard on a few of them.

God will play a large role in Folau’s life as he attempts to secure a berth in the Giants’ side for their season opener against Sydney.

An ode to Laurie Daley’s extraordinarily bad tipping abilities

Some people make hating Manly into an art form, some people have turned on field success into career longevity in the form of punditry and off field roles. Few have done both the way Laurie Daley has.

Laurie Daley is an idiot. Here is his season prediction for Manly this year: 13th. They’re now in the Grand Final.

He was a selector for the NSW State of Origin team for five years, and while I don’t condone filling wikipedia with biased misinformation the blurb has it about right:

“He was the first person from the disgraced and shamed New South Wales administration to quit after five consecutive series defeats”

Mr Daley tipped the Roosters, the Raiders, and the Titans to make the top six this year, they came 11th, 15th, and 16th. His pre-season predictions were abysmal – the teams that finished the regular season in positions 1 and 2 were tipped to come 11th and 13th respectively.

He spent last week death-riding Manly, suggesting the Broncos were specials to knock off Manly.

The man is an idiot.

Manly should take out next Sunday’s Grand Final, which will be sensational…

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Seven Things I’m Looking Forward to in Sydney

In no particular order…

1. Catching up with friends (including Izaac and Sarah whose blogs I can’t be bothered linking to but you all read them anyway. Right.)
2. Taronga Zoo.
3. Manly play the Sharks on Saturday night
4. Church by the Bridge (5pm service on Sunday is my plan)
5. Coffee at AIR, Alchemy, Bean Drinking and Mecca. Those are my plans.
6. Gould Books..
7. The wedding we’re actually coming down for.

Storm in teacup

So the Melbourne Storm were cheating the salary cap. Hands up who was shocked by the news that a team boasting so many representative players was rorting the salary cap…

No hands?

Didn’t think so.

I guess this makes the Might Manly Warringah Sea Eagles back-to-back champions.

Also…

On a subject vaguely related to “commentary” – I watched the football tonight.

I can not come to terms with Manly’s reversal of fortune and or ability after last year’s Grand Final.

I refuse to put it all down to Brett Stewart. Instead I blame the following three players, who I would drop immediately were I the coach:

  1. Michael Bani – ok in attack, rubbish in defense.
  2. Chris Bailey – why was he signed? What does he do? He’s great in attack provided he doesn’t have to pass or think creatively. But he’s a 5/8th. They need to put Lyon back at pivot.
  3. Shane Rodney or Glenn Hall – they are nothing players. Who do nothing. At all. Cuthbertson should be in the run on side. 

Also, I find Billy Slater intolerably annoying. He’s far too good. And he has a face that makes me want to lash out in violent anger. I’d like him to play for a team that I like – but that is unlikely so he is like, unlikeable.

Oh well, at least Manchester United beat Arsenal.

Eagles and jet engines

I am annoyed. Here’s a recipe for being annoyed.

  1. My beloved Sea Eagles are zero and three after three rounds.
  2. Tonight they went down 12-10 to Penrith.
  3. They can’t win/score points without Brett Stewart or David Williams.
  4. I spent the second half listening to Phil Gould gloating about the Eagle’s plight. For someone who relied on the Sea Eagle’s money to keep the ARL alive during the Super League war he’s sure got a bad mid term memory.

Oh well, at least the Raiders are worse.

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Manlyness

It’s obviously a pretty difficult time to be a Manly supporter – what with guys who punch fathers of attractive girls who dare to interfere in their advances and alleged sexual assaulters named to turn out for the team on Friday.

The NRL has just suspended Stewart for five rounds.

It makes me feel sick.

I don’t even want to trot out the “innocent until proven guilty” line in their defense. Or mention that the Gold Coast Titans played a player all year who was facing a charge for the same offence.

What’s worse than the media circus surrounding the upcoming court case is the fact that everyone feels compelled to weigh in on the debate. The NRL has forced a club not to play a player (for ruining their ad campaign bringing the game into disrepute, a former test rugby player and SMH columnist wants them to sack him, a group of prominent women associated with the club have come out saying the player is a gentleman, and a former League player from another club is now calling on Manly to drop the player for this weekend. Then all the politicians had to have their say on the issue.

Calling on a player to stand down while the charge is investigated is fair enough – or would be if the investigation took only a matter of weeks – but they often don’t. The Titans player mentioned previously played a whole season before being found not guilty. If he’d been forced to sit out that would have cost him a year’s wages in case where he was found innocent.

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Fox Sports subbed by monkey

Can you spot the problem with the following sentence from this story?

“Rumoured to of signed a four-year $450,000-a-year deal with the Sea Eagles back in 2005, Orford would likely have to take a pay cut to remain on the northern beaches with the club battling to reward last year’s premiers and remain under the salary cap.”

If yes, please apply for a job sub-editing Fox Sports Online. The story was from AAP so if you want to be a journalist go get a job there.

A Manly win

Manly won the World Club Challenge last night – the first NRL team to do so in the last five years. They’re also only the sixth team to do it in 17 years of WCC matches. Only two have been played in Australia.

Bodes well for a good season for the mighty Sea Eagles. Who are also the deservedly the bookmaker’s favourites this year.

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So much to tell you…

Following a two week hiatus you’d expect there’d be a bunch of interesting stories for me to tell you. This would be an incorrect assumption. Sure, I went to a couple of weddings and saw Gomez live (they were amazing). I visited exciting places like Toowoomba, the Gold Coast and Mount Tambourine. I spent hours in a hospital car park waiting to pick up the groom from one of the aforementioned weddings following emergency eye surgery two days before he was due to marry Robyn’s sister Justina. I picked new towels, sheets and bed linen as part of preparation for my own married life (and wasn’t that fun). I learned all about weddings – for instance – I learned that the colour of an invitation should indicate what colour to wear, or not to wear to a wedding (the colour of the invite should match the bridesmaid’s dresses and also indicate the general theming of the wedding). I tried, without success thus far, to find somewhere to hold an “intimate” wedding reception following a larger inclusive ceremony and afternoon tea, and negotiated the nightmare of family politics surrounding weddings (I can now empathise with the captain of the Titanic who was no doubt doing his best to miss a bunch of minor icebergs when he ran into the big one that scuppered the ship). Plus there were a series of traumatic events in the news cycle while I was away that I felt compelled to blog about – however I couldn’t actually be bothered to respond to those compulsions. So will now mention them in passing – Andrew Johns retired as the best half back I’ve ever seen (given that my league watching career spanned exactly the length of his career that’s not too surprising). Anyone who tries to compare the incomparable skills of Mr Johns with Alfie Langer, Ricky Stuart or any other number seven who played in that period has rocks in their heads (even Geoff Toovey wasn’t as good – he sadly had no kicking game). Incidentally, Manly are still undefeated and sit atop the ladder, Manchester United won 7-1 against Roma in the Champions League and made the FA Cup final in the same week while still leading the Premier League by 3 points with only a few rounds to go (including one against Chelsea – which barring a diabolical turn of events and dramatic chance in goal difference it probably won’t matter if they lose they should still take the title) – so all in all it’s good to be me right now

The ANZAC day media fiasco played itself out in the media – but I’d like to point out that Vietnam is in fact no Gallipoli – and April 25 has very little to do with the Vietnam conflict. Why wasn’t the fuss made about that? I’m glad the real issue – Rudd’s Channel 7 favouritism was brought to the fore and promptly dealt with. A school shooting in the US made further mockery of the right to bear/bare arms (why anyone would want paws or hair free arms is beyond me). The idea that the American populace to be able to take part in a citizen’s militia to repel invaders has been a little diluted to the point where students can open fire on their peers. Gun reform is an easy campaign issue for the Democrats now so we’ll see what Joe’s blog has to say on that issue in the near future. Speaking of blogs philnsmiz has finally been updated – and should be again shortly, while Scooter’s blog still languishes back on the first of January where it promised so much but has since delivered so little. Tim’s has been also been updated.

So all in all, I am in need of a holiday. And I’m back at work today.

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I’ll bet…

The mighty Manly Warringah Sea Eagles are on a roll. I was so confident they’d beat the Panthers that I placed a bet with a friend of mine who happens to support them. Is this wrong? If I was sure the Sea Eagles were going to win isn’t that tantamount to stealing? If I was uncertain – is that poor stewardship of my money? Is gambling in and of itself wrong – or is it the associated greed? I don’t want the $5 that Pat is going to have to cough up because his team are unable to function effectively as a unit – I wasn’t motivated by greed. I just like to win. A game is infinitely more enjoyable if there’s actually something weighing on the outcome – by enjoyable I mean exciting – there’s more adrenalin involved if you actually might win or lose something depending on the outcome. But am I going to hell because of this bet? (well no, I’m not going to hell… at this point that was a little bit of rabbitical hyperbole… not that I’m claiming to be a Rabbi, or a rabbit…) Is gambling sinful? Should we be condoning or facilitating any form of greed. The Catholics have been running Bingo competitions as fundraisers for years so they obviously don’t have a problem with it. Neither does the Australian Chief Executive of Woolworths who is a professing Christian.

In that story above (by above I mean contained in the link above…) he made some pretty carefully considered statements about the decision his company has made to invest in a series of gaming establishments.

“I don’t think that’s a moral judgment, I think what is a moral judgment is that one needs to be careful and concerned about the environment in which they sell in the market facilities of that nature.”

While personally I don’t have a problem with gambling if you can remove the element of greed from the equation – if it’s budgeted entertainment with no addiction involved then go for it… who am I to say that using a pokie machine is any less fun than playing an arcade game. My problem is making a distinction like Mr Woolworths (not his real name) has made here. It reminds me of a scene from the Godfather where the Mafia Dons (head honchos) are gathered round a table discussing a move into the narcotics industry – one of them says ”

“I don’t want it near schools — I don’t want it sold to children! That’s an infamia. In my city, we would keep the traffic in the dark people — the colored. They’re animals anyway, so let them lose their souls… “

Somehow the logic in both those quotes seems strikingly similar to me – as long as we’re careful where we put the bad stuff people can go and do the bad stuff if they choose to. Gambling addiction is, without question, a destructive thing. Like the Whitlams I wish I could blow up the pokies… but then I’d lose out on cheap pub steaks designed to attract gamblers. So in conclusion I haven’t exactly figured out my position on gambling yet… but I thought that article was interesting… particularly the quote below, and the fact that Mr Woolworths said he’d be happy to sell bullets at supermarkets if it was legal and there was demand for them. Again, not a moral decision apparently. But where do we draw the line for Christians involved in business? Is it wrong to work at Maccas if they cause obesity? Is it wrong to be a lawyer? I think Mr Woolworths actually has it right in this case…

“I believe that I’ll be accountable one day for my life and so to that extent I’ll be accountable for my integrity,” he said.