For the Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs, this has been a week to forget.
Like having orange juice after brushing your teeth, the events at Belmore Oval on Monday soured an otherwise positive Grand Final week and re-opened the debate over rugby league’s rocky relationship with women.
The NRL has been desperately trying to open doors to women and families, a lasting legacy of David Gallop’s reign as CEO. And for the most part it has worked. The ‘Women in League’ initiative has been overwhelmingly positive, and there are more females involved in the rugby league world than ever before – this is after all 2012, not 1962.
In clubs, the community, and in the media, female faces are becoming more and more prominent in the game and that is not a bad thing.
But unfortunately there are still some stuck in the past, unable to shift old ways of thinking, accept and respect women’s involvement in the sport.
This was clearest when a major sponsor of the Bulldogs came out defending those involved in that now infamous Mad Monday event at Belmore Oval, where sexist remarks were shouted at female journalists by a member of the Bulldogs’ staff. It was just one of many unsavoury displays on the day, and certainly the most troubling.
Jaycar Electronics owner Gary Johnston went on talk-back radio saying, “if a woman walks into some bars in Sydney, she will be ogled, she will be treated as an object and that's the way it is.”
That’s all well and good Gary, but the women in question were not at a bar, they were doing their job. And that job was not at a bar!
Those who vehemently see the Mad Monday story as nothing but a beat-up have asked ‘why were the media there?’ as if they were sniffing for trouble. Maybe they were, we do not know, but as many journalists have explained in the aftermath, they did have good reason to be present.
After losing the Premiership to Melbourne Storm on Sunday, the Bulldogs controversially closed off access to the dressing rooms, a breach of the NRL’s guidelines.
So, unable to speak to or even attempt to speak to ear-biter James Graham after the game, the media say they had no choice but to attend the Mad Monday celebrations in hope of getting a news grab from the Englishman.
They didn’t get what they were after, and instead received a hostile reception unbecoming of a professional sports team.
Whether the players deserved privacy or not is irrelevant.
In a world where every sportsperson is now trained on how to effectively deal with media, their actions can only be described as supremely idiotic.
But defenders of the under-siege Bulldogs have persisted. They sent female reporters to the sacred Aussie, alcohol-fueled tradition of Mad Monday, ‘what did they expect?’ these people have asked.
Well I’m sorry, but just because a journalist is female, does not mean they deserve to be subject to the treatment they got on Monday. Hell, just because ANY female is female, does not mean they deserve that sort of treatment at work!
Bulldogs CEO Todd Greenberg may have condemned the actions on Mad Monday, but the attitude of his staff and club sponsors in the days after simply undoes it all.
Beneath the pink-washed press releases and merchandise, the truth is, rugby league and women are still struggling to get along.
We may have come some way in recent times, and those achievements should be applauded. However the sexist undertones within the rugby league world continue to plague the sport and undermine any efforts to move the game into the future.
More than a few need to be reminded once more; this is 2012, not 1962.
Follow Melanie on Twitter, @MelanieDinjaski