In every press conference, there is a key sentence or word.
"Reactive’’ was the key word that the new Australian rugby league commission trump John Grant used when David Gallop announced his resignation as NRL chief executive, effective immediately.
Since Gallop had only signed a new four-year deal, it was clear Grant had won a power play and Gallop had taken the hint and the boot.
If nothing else, this showed Grant was a man of some steel, with a presence not suggested by his previously anodyne words.
"Reactive’’ wasn’t anodyne, it was damning.
More than the word’s saying Gallop had reacted to events instead of setting agendas, it could be read that Grant was implying the NRL had been consistently reacting to an AFL agenda.
Fair criticism? Well, it’s hard to list great achievements during Gallop’s time. He cited the annual All Stars game as an innovation. Granted. Next?
The problem for Gallop was that he was compromised for almost all of his administration.
He was a former News Ltd lawyer from the Super League years, and News Ltd had a major stake in the game for nearly all of his time, and still has through private ownerships.
Potential conflicts of interest were never far away.
Because of past associations, he was in an impossible position during the Melbourne Storm salary-cap scandal.
As it turned out, the penalties were draconian and hit the wrong targets.
And the Brett Stewart affair was a continuing disaster. Stewart deserved to be punished for getting drunk at a public function. That should have been made clear from the start, instead of Stewart’s perceived to be denied the presumption of innocence in a sexual assault case. Perceived.
Stewart’ subsequent petulance after being cleared of the allegation, and seeming not to understand he had been irresponsible when representing the game, is another issue.
However his administration is viewed, Gallop should be remembered as a decent, honest man.
Grant has got what he wanted; he has cleared the field for action. He has no excuse for being reactive.
"The Hayne train is back’’ said the headlines after the Parramatta fullback came down from the clouds and gave one of his out-of-this-world performances in the Eels’ 29-20 defeat of Cronulla in the NRL.
What the performance really said was that Hayne should be the NSW State of Origin fullback.
Only from there can he fully get the opportunity, his wonders to perform.
Play him on the wing and you get half his skills.
You don’t get NSW on the attack from kick returns, you don’t get Hayne seizing his moment to run and fire magical passes to outside man.
It’s been said before: you get Brett Stewart, who can run 100m when fielding a kick while bodies are in motion, who can use his change of pace, anticipation and body swerve and set up outside men.
But what you also get is the Stewart who never beats the first tackler on kick returns when the defence is set, who puts his team on the defensive, who is easily contained by an accurate kicking game at Origin level.
Who is a great player, but who is not Jarryd Hayne. Nobody is when his head isn’t in the clouds.
Summer follows winter and spring and brings forth the A league, which follows rugby league, in every sense.
It will bring forth a new western Sydney team and most of its teams as financial basket cases in a fragile competition.
The solution to its financial ills should be obvious to billionaire and Soccer Australia trump Frank Lowy.
Russian and Indian billionaires.
Why should they spend $100 million on new toys in the form of English premier league clubs when they can have an Australian toy for a few lazy million.
And the weather’s so much better, with plenty of coast on which to build that summer dacha.
Jamie Packer would welcome them with open arms. Well, maybe not, since they might decide they’d like other toys.
You know it makes sense and everyone’s a winner.
Women’s soccer and cricket were the real winners over the Ellyse Perry choose-or-lose drama at Canberra.
The respective codes have never had such publicity, but after all the words expended, one comparison hasn’t been made.
Graeme Hughes was the last footballer-cricketer to excel at both sports.
He played both rugby league and cricket for NSW in the 1970s.
He had to choose and plumped for the Canterbury Bulldogs, resuming a first-grade cricket career after his notable football one was over, as Les Johns once did.
There will never be a Hughes equivalent again.
Both football and cricket are now 12-months-of-the-year lucrative professions. A choice has to be made.
Perry will have to make that choice, unless she can find a club that treats her differently from her team-mates.
There’s the rub.
Canberra wants to be a professionally-run club in what can only ever be an amateur game.
There will always be academic feminists to scour the media and find, say, that men’s sport receives 83 per cent of the coverage and women only 17 per cent, and read into this some male media conspiracy.
There will always be proponents of particular women’s sports making the chicken-an-egg argument; people don’t watch their sport and sponsors don’t support it because it’s not covered by the media, and if it were on television people and sponsors would support it.
(Supporters of men’s sport make this argument too. The Australian Basketball League was tried on prime-time television and was a ratings disaster. Supporters of Football NSW’s premier league even make this argument. Their passion for their teams is commendable. Commonsense says it would be a disaster)
Women’s soccer and cricket are shown - on the ABC to miniscule audiences. This is not a reason for not televising them; the ABC is presenting a public service.
Yet there will always be those to argue if only a women’s Test match was shown live like a men’s Test match, the audience would follow.
Perry is a victim of her own excellence. She could score a lucrative soccer contract with a United States club, where there is money, should she choose football.
Failing that, she has to rely on being given preferential treatment by local clubs, which goes against the ethos of team sports.