James Graham

For those that did not see the Round 24 clash of the Bulldogs and the Dragons there was an incident where James Graham pushed away a cameraman.

To set the scene, Jason Nightingale had come from the field and was in considerable pain. A player that is retiring at the end of the season has come off the field distressed and in pain and is more than likely wondering if he is going to get the chance to have a proper farewell.

Admittedly, Nightingale went to the sideline and not the sheds and even though James Graham has always been accused of being a live-wire he was protecting the privacy of his team-mate.

There is an expectation that TV cameras have unlimited access to everything that happens on and off the field, before, during and after a game. TV stations pay large sums of money to cover rugby league and they are there to give the viewer an experience.

One of the benefits of being a rugby league fan in 2018 is that you will always be able to watch the game in some format.

There was once a time a match such as the one played on Saturday night between the bottom two teams of the competition would never have been televised, despite it featuring one of the greatest players of all time in his last home match.

Rugby league needs the TV cameras there in the modern game, not only to grow the audience but it relies on the TV coverage for things such as the video referee. The NRL has invested a great deal in making the game an experience to be viewed on TV.

There are cameras in the change rooms, players are interviewed as they are coming off the field at half time and full time.

There are microphones everywhere on the field picking up every sound of the game from the big hits to the refs instructions. There are cameramen running more metres than a forward to make sure they are on top of every play.

It could be said there is more emphasis on the television product than there is about the live viewing experience. Back in the hey-day of rugby league the only way to get to see your team to play was to attend the game.

You could always tell how passionate a fan was by whether or not they had a season membership. However the experience for people attending the game no longer seems to be the priority for the NRL.

Crowd attendance is not where the money is for the NRL. If it was about getting people to attend games, than a Thursday evening game would not be played. If it was about the experience of being at a live game, then there would be much more to experience at half time than watching the junior teams having a relay competition up and down the field.

Half time is now consumed by the TV commentary and half the crowd should be at the bar paying for overpriced drinks for the NRL to invest in any serious entertainment.

Sports such as basketball, which does not get the same TV coverage here in Australia make sure when there is a stoppage in the game that there are ways for the crowd to get involved, something the NRL fails miserably at.

Back to the original subject though, when is this coverage too much? How much do viewers expect to see? Is it OK televising a private moment? The player was in pain, is it necessary to televise and capture that pain for all to see?

Do we need to hear from a player running off the field after his team has failed to score any points in that half, what are we expecting him to say?

Are fans expecting someone who has been on the field running around for 40 mins to put together a fully eloquent and motivational speech?

The player hasn’t had time to analyse anything, they are dealing with what is in front of them, they are not watching from the comfort of the coaches box or the press box. The extra footage and interviews don’t seem to be adding anything.

In an era where there is a camera on everyone’s phones and we live our lives via social media we’ve come to expect everything to be visible, we expect to have an insight to the lives of people.

What we tend to forget is that we have a choice on what we share. How many of us would share the footage of us losing our job, of that exact moment you find out that you are no longer able to come to work... would we rush to put that on Instagram?

I personally don’t believe that many of us would choose to share that raw emotion with the world, but we perversely expect to see it when it happens to a player on the football field.

That moment when he knows that for the rest of the season he is not getting back on the field.

Am I the only one that thinks that some things don’t need to be made into TV coverage? Do we need to watch all these moments?

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