University research on fans' views of racism in the NRL

Apr 9, 2021
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Dear all,

I have admin support to make this post.

I am an academic at the University of South Australia (my details are included at the beginning of the survey) and I am conducting some research on fans’ views of racism in the NRL. To do so, I have constructed an anonymous survey and it should only take a few minutes of your time to complete:


Completing the survey is voluntary, but I hope you agree it is a topical study and I thank you in advance for your time.
 

Sproj

International Captain
Forum Staff
Sep 6, 2013
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Hi all, yes he does have admin permission to post this. It is completely voluntary, so feel free to either participate or not, it is entirely up to you.
 

McHunt

State of Origin Rep
Aug 25, 2018
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In all seriousness, racism against dark-skinned players would have to be the least of Rugby League's cultural problems. The time when a team had one or two dark players and they got nicknamed "Pearl" or "Choc" is long gone. The QLD Origin team has been dominated by indigenous descent players since Arthur Beetson was captain. Oh yeah, that was the first game. No one even comments on whether players are indigenous anymore except when it's forced during the Indigenous round and All Stars match.

How do you get to be racist when your team has been over-representing dark skinned ethnic groups - namely Polynesian - for as long as you can remember? It's not because of some token representation. But because they're so damn good.

The NRL's biggest racial problem internally is how to keep white kids playing the sport at a junior level. Ask parents what sport their kids are playing and why. Spoiler: it's not Rugby League. I know there was some public resentment there years ago, but I think it's moved onto acceptance now. White kids, that's the major ethnic group, are walking away because they can't compete. The question is whether they'll pour money into the game when they become adults.

That's the serious conversation. Don't look to me for an answer.
 

soup

State of Origin Captain
May 1, 2013
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Done. Good luck with your study.

BTW, racism in NRL isn’t the problem it once was. Read McHunt’s statement above.

NRL/rugby league actually helps connect kids/adults of different races, always has.

Out of interest, what’s your thesis?
 

Santa

NYC Player
Jun 30, 2020
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In all seriousness, racism against dark-skinned players would have to be the least of Rugby League's cultural problems. The time when a team had one or two dark players and they got nicknamed "Pearl" or "Choc" is long gone. The QLD Origin team has been dominated by indigenous descent players since Arthur Beetson was captain. Oh yeah, that was the first game. No one even comments on whether players are indigenous anymore except when it's forced during the Indigenous round and All Stars match.

How do you get to be racist when your team has been over-representing dark skinned ethnic groups - namely Polynesian - for as long as you can remember? It's not because of some token representation. But because they're so damn good.

The NRL's biggest racial problem internally is how to keep white kids playing the sport at a junior level. Ask parents what sport their kids are playing and why. Spoiler: it's not Rugby League. I know there was some public resentment there years ago, but I think it's moved onto acceptance now. White kids, that's the major ethnic group, are walking away because they can't compete. The question is whether they'll pour money into the game when they become adults.

That's the serious conversation. Don't look to me for an answer.
I would say its not really a "white kid" problem, more of a societal issue around professional sport not really reflecting the Australias diverse population (and does it really need to). Certian sports seem to attract certain cultures/races based on history/preferance. I.e. nrl: islanders, swimming: white people, indians: cricket, Asians: table tennis (lol). In the end does it really matter? As long as regardless of race people are given the same opportunity, we should not expect the same outcome. If your good/built for it, then that's it.
 

McHunt

State of Origin Rep
Aug 25, 2018
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I would say its not really a "white kid" problem, more of a societal issue around professional sport not really reflecting the Australias diverse population (and does it really need to). Certian sports seem to attract certain cultures/races based on history/preferance. I.e. nrl: islanders, swimming: white people, indians: cricket, Asians: table tennis (lol). In the end does it really matter? As long as regardless of race people are given the same opportunity, we should not expect the same outcome. If your good/built for it, then that's it.
As a spectator, no it doesn't matter. As a game administrator, hell yes it matters. The more of the general population you can involve in your sport, the healthier the competition, and the more money it generates. The more money it generates the more you can invest in the grassroots.

The problem isn't the number of Poly kids coming through. It's the number of white kids who aren't. So the solution - if one can even exist - can't be to reduce the number of Polynesians. It has to be to grow the game.
 

Santa

NYC Player
Jun 30, 2020
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As a spectator, no it doesn't matter. As a game administrator, hell yes it matters. The more of the general population you can involve in your sport, the healthier the competition, and the more money it generates. The more money it generates the more you can invest in the grassroots.

The problem isn't the number of Poly kids coming through. It's the number of white kids who aren't. So the solution - if one can even exist - can't be to reduce the number of Polynesians. It has to be to grow the game.
I disagree. As you say as a spectator it doesn't matter. And I agree the more players the better, but it shouldn't matter what their race is. Using your argument, if we wanted nrl to represent the general population we should be looking at more Asians, Indians, Arabs, etc playing in the nrl before white kids.
 

Galah

NRL Captain
Mar 28, 2019
Threads
1
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In all seriousness, racism against dark-skinned players would have to be the least of Rugby League's cultural problems. The time when a team had one or two dark players and they got nicknamed "Pearl" or "Choc" is long gone. The QLD Origin team has been dominated by indigenous descent players since Arthur Beetson was captain. Oh yeah, that was the first game. No one even comments on whether players are indigenous anymore except when it's forced during the Indigenous round and All Stars match.

How do you get to be racist when your team has been over-representing dark skinned ethnic groups - namely Polynesian - for as long as you can remember? It's not because of some token representation. But because they're so damn good.

The NRL's biggest racial problem internally is how to keep white kids playing the sport at a junior level. Ask parents what sport their kids are playing and why. Spoiler: it's not Rugby League. I know there was some public resentment there years ago, but I think it's moved onto acceptance now. White kids, that's the major ethnic group, are walking away because they can't compete. The question is whether they'll pour money into the game when they become adults.

That's the serious conversation. Don't look to me for an answer.
I think weight grades needs to brought in. They do it in NZ and I think it’s a great idea.
 

soup

State of Origin Captain
May 1, 2013
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I think weight grades needs to brought in. They do it in NZ and I think it’s a great idea.
I wouldn’t consider my son playing league unless this became a thing. My first son did and had so many bad injuries.
 

McHunt

State of Origin Rep
Aug 25, 2018
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On a separate, but related, note to T theacademic . I'd like to distinguish what is cultural bias and what is racism. The two are commonly conflated, but criticism of culture is crucial.

Racism is judging by appearance. A person looks a certain way, so they're likely to behave in a certain way. It's an inherited value that can't be modified.

Cultural bias is judging by a common set of behaviors or beliefs. A person comes from a culture, so they're likely to behave in a certain way or think in a certain way. It's a learned value that can be modified. It may need to be modified. Like giving women the same rights as men.

One who is genuinely "progressive" therefore does not lump people into categories based on their appearance. They don't use weasel terms like "people of colour" to patronize otherness. They nip that shit right at the bud.

But one who is genuinely "progressive" does try to change culture. That is how progress is effected. Your cultural bias is your culture. And your culture isn't static.

If you confuse race and culture you censor the discourse of progress.
 
Team P W L PD Pts
15 13 2 344 26
15 13 2 311 26
14 11 3 105 24
14 11 3 176 22
14 9 5 122 20
13 7 6 33 16
15 7 8 -11 14
14 6 8 -44 14
14 6 8 -121 14
14 5 9 -66 12
14 5 9 -70 12
15 6 9 -131 12
14 5 9 -62 10
15 5 10 -132 10
13 2 11 -204 6
15 3 12 -250 6

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