Gotta get to the game!
There are times in life when you have to do the painful stuff such as mow the lawn, go for a jog or be dragged to the shops, which can be pretty hard to take. At times watching your favourite NRL team can also be pretty painful. Whether its referees and injuries hampering your team�s hopes, or your club simply not playing to their potential, it can be shattering at times. Luckily for all the torment, there is hope every weekend that your team can defy the odds and overcome the opposition no matter how formidable they are. Usually such adversities are overcome thanks to a lot of hard work, faith and commitment amongst players. Such qualities form the basis of any successful team, and they don�t just exist on the field. The games diehard fans regularly display a large amount of hard work, faith and commitment. They make the difficult decision to get off the lounge and face the elements (which often involves freezing cold and wet conditions) rather than take the easy option and watch the game at home. They have faith that every week their team can win despite where they may be sitting on the ladder. And they commit enough time, money and emotion to put many of us to shame. It�s hard watching your team lose, but to do it every second week exposed to the elements demonstrates what true support is.
Which is why I feel a little disappointed by the NRL crowd figures lately. It seems that, while there is a solid base of diehard fans at most clubs, a lot of fans are staying away from the games under-performing teams. Of course miracles aren�t expected, some teams have always struggled to attract large numbers. However compared to last years home crowd averages, fans are abandoning their poor performing teams in larger numbers than ever before. For example the Rabbitohs fans are staying away with only an average of 6,881 attending the last three games. The Roosters have lost fans dramatically as the season has progressed with only 8,290 attending their previous three games. The Warriors have also struggled with an average of 9,821 for their last three games. I must emphasise that I�m not picking on these three clubs specifically as many other clubs are suffering similarly. However such low figures hark back to the dark days of Super League when fans stayed away from the code in protest.
Admittedly factors such as poor weather, the Warriors losing premiership points, the Bunnies unpopular move to Homebush and a general feeling that the standard of League has deteriorated this season has kept fringe fans away. But being a supporter is all about supporting your team through the good and the bad. Being there for them is your way of demonstrating your commitment and faith in your team. While many aren�t attending due to their teams poor performance, surely Souths chances of winning would have dramatically increased if they had 20-25,000 vocal fans cheering them on rather than the 7,509 they had on Sunday.
The Knights for instance lost 13 games in a row last season, yet the crowd average improved on their previous season. Such support inspired them to 7 of their last 9 games and also earned them a new major sponsor.
The NRL must be concerned about the drop in attendance figures (15,065 per game average so far this year compared to 16,486 last season). While there may be no simple answer to the problem, what we as fans can do is start attending more games not because their team is successful, but for the love of the sport. Who knows, we may get out of doing the lawns in the process.