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Somare threatens ban on Origin football telecasts

Sir Michael Somare has said that Papua New Guineans have “gone crazy” over the Australian Stateof Origin rugby league series, which is broadcast widely on PNG television.

He said the craze had resulted in destruction to property and loss of life. In violence linked to the game, two university students were killed at Port Moresby’s Five-Mile settlement two weeks ago after the second State of Origin encounter.

Sir Michael, who has backed a PNG team entering the Australian rugby league competition, said people had gone crazy over a game that was not played on PNG soil and not played by  Papua New Guineans.

“Many times you hear wives being bashed up, TV screens smashed, big sums of money lost through bets, but at the end of the day those players are not Papua New Guineans,” he told Parliament. “Why can’t we show the same enthusiasm and support when our own people are sweating it out in the field?”

“There is no logic at all and if I had a say, I would ban the NRL from being telecast in PNG,” he said.

Source: ‘PM: We are crazy over a game played by Aussies’, The National, 8 July 2009


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Colin Huggins

As always - excellent Paul. I can't stop laughing at the stupidity of it all. One would think that Somare has more important matters to attend to than a football series!

Paul Oates

At the risk of mortally offending those who follow football (or as the Brits call it, 'Rugby'), I have heard the game described as 'a two groups of men running around a cow paddock grasping at other men's bodies and occasionally handling and kicking a blownup piece of pigskin'.

Certainly one can see the similarities between organised warfare that is possibly limited by rules that are aimed at reducing any injuries being suffered by the players.

Then again, the parallels between football and the gladiatorial games of 2,000 years ago aren't too far below the surface especially when the Roman mob used to have their chariot teams decked out in different colours and were so passionate about their particular team and its designated colour that they would fight opposing teams in the grandstands if they thought there had been a perceived slight against their own team.

Can someone tell me what has changed in 2,000 years? Certainly human nature doesn't seem to have evolved.

So here we come to the nub of the problem. Is it football that's the problem or human behaviour? The Roman aristocracy kept a semblance of control over the Roman mob by handing out free food and providing free entertainment. Hence the historical reference to "bread and circuses".

But in order solve a problem, it is essential to first define what the problem is. Many road safety campaigns in recent Australian history have trumpeted the gerund, 'speed kills'. But is the campaign against speed per se merely a sophism (read furphy) intended to deceive and divert attention away from the real cause of traffic accidents?

Isn't speed just a word that defines rapidity of movement? Isn't the real cause of death and injury on our roads directly due to the lack of ability in many drivers who are unable to control their vehicles safely, despite whatever speed they are travelling?

In the days of William Shakespeare families had a bath once a year. A large tub of heated water was placed in the living room and the family all bathed in the same tub but in order of priority.

Father came first and then one assumes mother after which came the men of the family and then the girls. Last came the baby and as the water was so dirty by that stage, it is suggested that this is where the expression "don't throw the baby out with the bath water!" came from.

So if the PNG PM is correct, simply switching off the State of Origin football broadcast could fix all the problems associated with violence and poverty being experienced in PNG today.

Obviously, the RPNGC have the wrong approach by flattening the squatter settlement where the deaths occurred.

Now if one were to pursue this solution to its logical end, one could clearly understand how easy a solution like this could be for fixing all PNG's current social problems. Why hasn't this been thought of before?

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