Rugby League And Existentialism Do Not Mix Well

Ever had a day where you just couldn’t be fucked? The Canberra Raiders did, yesterday.

Being a rugby league player must be a terrible existence. If I ever feel like I “can’t be fucked,” which is increasingly often, I can always just stay in bed and watch countless episodes of whatever-HBO-TV-series-is-currently-the-most-critically-acclaimed. I can call in a fake sick day at work; I can go to an inner west cafe and read street press mags like I’m John Cusack and it’s a rainy day in Portland, or something.

But a rugby league player can’t just “not give a fuck” on game day. Despite how they’re feeling, they must rid themselves of all self-doubt/ennui/existentialism and put in 110% (100% is not enough, this has already been clearly established) to appease their fans and critics alike, for they will surely be judged on their results. They have a team – A TEAM! – of doctors, nutritionists, trainers, physios, coaches and general staffers – not to mention a board of directors – whose sheer livelihoods depend on how these 17 players perform. That’s a lot of fucking pressure.

All that we ask, as fans, is that a team “tries their heart out,” for supporters are emotionally – and often financially, be it as club members or gambling drones – invested in the team’s success. But I get it, sometimes you just don’t feel like trying. It’s the human condition. Rugby league players are not robots; some even have emotions and feelings. You’d be surprised.

“Is this really what I want to be doing with my life?”

I can have a shit day at work and no one really notices – or gives a shit – that I’m actually dying inside. And that’s great; I thrive on that lack of dependence at the moment. The Danny Weidlers and Paul Kents of this world have no interest in my daily productivity – and that’s how I’d like to keep it, although Weidler does have sources in strange places.

What’s more, is that I can have a shit day/week/year and embark upon a series of ill-advised benders – and no one’s going to step in and sanction me for doing so. Sure, some friends and family may gently inquire whether this is the right course of action for me to be taking at this stage in my life, but for the most part I’m free to ride this violent, self-loathing downhill spiral for as long as need be.

A rugby league player can’t do this. It would interfere with their strict nutritional plan and probably incur some kind of club penalty/stern disapproval from the “leadership group.” And that’s why I could never be a rugby league player; my mind would constantly be asking “why the fuck am I participating in this zero-sum game?”

68-4 is a pretty heinous scoreline in anyone’s language. But cut the Raiders some slack. Sometimes you just can’t be fucked, eh?

By Dave Edwards

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