The Storm Crisis: This Time With No Witty Title

As, briefly, a student of American history one thing that was communicated to me was that Americans are always losing their innocence. It’s a trope apparently. A pattern, theme or motif – in this case a little fairy-tale like schema to organise what would be a series of apparently random events: that’s what history is, random. We attempt to make sense of it. Americans – citizens of the United States, to be more accurate – are always losing their innocence. Recent examples have been the Vietnam War (we didn’t know it could be that brutal and difficult to get out), the end of Nixon’s presidency (could politics be that corrupt?), the Iraq War (we didn’t know it could be that brutal and difficult to get out), and George W. Bush’s presidency (we didn’t know, etc). When will they learn? Nice stories about bringing freedom to the world are little more than just that. If you want to believe in ideals, fine, believe in them. Try to act according to them. But those young men and women, reservists called up to work as military police in correctional facilities like Abu Ghraib, were not all Twenty-First Century Thomas Jeffersons and Benjamin Franklins. They were kids from small towns with rudimentary educations, thrown in at the deep end, basically told there were no rules, and they ran amok in those prisons.

No, that was a reminder that this war is to big for us to prosecute on our own; not the day we lost our innocence.

Innocence is so rarely there to lose.

I felt like I lost mine the other night when I found out about the Melbourne Storm’s salary cap breaches and the severe penalties imposed on them by the National Rugby League. A salary cap imposes a limit on how much teams can spend, and seeks to level out the talent pool in a competition, meaning factors other than the capacity of a club to pay for new, quality players determine which teams are good and which don’t succeed to the same level. The penalties even stripped Melbourne of theteam’s 2007 and 2009 titles – I had not thought that retrospective measures like this were possible – and all prize money will be paid back. The team this year cannot make the finals and thus has nothing to play for each week, except pride, and each individual on the roster deciding for himself that what he is paid to do is play well, and he must continue to do that.

The fact that people play games with multiple sets of books and more than one contract does not surprise me. I wish it didn’t happen, but I know certain figures within many clubs take a “creative” approach to accounting.

It’s not that. It’s this: I believed in them. I believed that this team was good because they were well coached and the administrators did their jobs efficiently and they were all content where they were, doing what they did, and played for each other. All these things seemed true. Mostly, they were true. The club had nurtured more talent better than any other in the last decade. But they were cheating. I wanted my Bulldogs to be more like them, but now I don’t.

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Published in: on April 26, 2010 at 8:42 pm  Leave a Comment  
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