OPINION

Please, let's all welcome the NRL to 2020

Please, let's all welcome the NRL to 2020

It is an often accepted wisdom that elite athletes have quick reactions. Quick reactions help on all manner of sports field - be it at the batting crease, on the half-forward flank at the MCG or at the net at on the local tennis courts.

Yes, of course, there are indeed instances when a long-term, well-crafted strategy will win the day.

But at some stage, those fast-twitch muscles will need to be almost instinctively called into action.

What about sports administrators? Quite clearly some are capable of decision-making on the hop - with advice from credible authorities and with the cascading effects of their decisions on their workforce, players and fans front of mind. Others not so much.

The NRL did its knuckle-dragging reputation no end of harm with its appallingly slow decision to suspend the competition.

When its decision finally came earlier this week you could imagine the eye-rolls across the nation - from fans and detractors alike.

Of course, it's a difficult decision. Yes, there are thousands upon thousands of affected individuals from administrators to support staff to the front office to bus drivers. Get it.

The commercial realities are just as far-reaching. From players' salaries to broadcast rights and, dare we say it, gambling, the economic reality of pulling the pin is monstrous.

But so, too, is this virus. It is not worth messing with.

Many of the former players who have morphed into media commentators (yes, Braith Anasta and Cooper Cronk, I'm looking at you) were content to let administrators do their thing.

They had faith in them. Not questioning and, really, not commenting beyond what was happening on the field.

Massive kudos to one rugby league veteran who publicly challenged the NRL's stance. Sydney Rooster Jake Friend isn't just a footballer, though.

Friend is a small business owner and faces the prospect of closing his cafe in Sydney's eastern suburbs if takeaway sales aren't enough to prop up the business.

"I want to continue to play as a player, that's our job and that's what we love to do. But then there is another part of me that you see all these different regulations and stuff come in.

"I've seen it at the cafe and you wonder, is it doing harm by having two sets of standards? Why are we special? I don't know."

No, the NRL is not special. And, sadly, there has been no greater a reminder than this week.

Janine Graham is an ACM journalist