The Telegraph last weekend gave an entire page to columnist Paul Kent rubbishing Storm coach Craig Bellamy for rubbishing Kent for rubbishing Cameron Smith.
A frustrated Bellamy had, presumably, grown weary of endlessly defending his star hooker against the likes of Kent and had stated that opinions of relevance should perhaps be confined to people who have actually played in the NRL.
Funnily enough Paul Kent meets this qualification. Kent played one first grade match for Parramatta in 1989. It's not the most auspicious of footballing resumes, and, given it was his only appearance, you'd have to assume that it didn't go all that well, but, still, it does mean that Kent, in having pulled on a jersey and run onto the park, meets Bellamy's criteria.
It is possible though, and indeed likely, that Bellamy (who played 148 games for the Raiders - one of which won them the 1990 premiership - and went on to coach the NSW State of Origin side before his work with the Storm) might look down his nose a little at Kent's contrasting level of accomplishment. You might even go so far as to say that Bellamy would prefer to hear, on matters football, from people who have played more than just the one club game.
Kent disagrees with vigour, for an entire page of The Telegraph. Does this mean, Kent argues, that you can't have an opinion on who will win the Melbourne Cup unless you have jockeyed in the race yourself? Are actors and script writers the only people allowed to have opinions on the quality of movies?
Kent seems unable to grasp the fact that Bellamy isn't questioning the right of everybody to have an opinion; what he's questioning is the validity of opinions being broadcast by people with questionable credentials, like Kent, in platforms like The Telegraph, to such significant circulations.
It's entertaining stuff, it sells newspapers, and, indulging in that sort of NSW-Victoria rivalry is a lot of what football's about.
But I don't know ... how far do you want to go with this? How far can you denigrate somebody like Smith while he's playing for the Storm, and then construct a reversal when he pulls on the green-and-gold?
It doesn't really work for me; as a Canterbury supporter I was always still able to appreciate how good Peter Sterling was. And the other thing is that Cameron Smith, for me, embodies a lot of what is great about our game: he's tough (without in any way being a thug); a skilful strategist who plays the game the way I believe it should be played. Is there any real value in people like Paul Kent giving him a hard time?
All this happens, of course, in the media - 'the Fourth Estate,' as Edmund Burke (no relation that I can so far establish) coined it. His fellow Irishman Oscar Wilde famously declared, even as far back as then, that it is "the only estate. It has eaten the other three".
If only something would eat The Telegraph ...
NETBALL'S TAWDRY CHANGE
It turns out that netball, which, until recently you'd would have considered sacred, is not immune to modern sporting trends.
In a worrying series it has been subjected to another, fairly extreme, rule change: Netball Australia has announced that now, in only the last five minutes, you will be able to score a two-pointer from somewhere outside the usual shooting zone.
It appears to be roughly equivalent to a basketball three-pointer. But for me, what it really is is a tawdry, crowd-pleasing, faux excitement generating, cheap counterpart to Rugby League's extra-time golden point.
It maybe says a lot about us, the modern spectators, that in order to maintain our interest the sellers of the games keep feeling that they have to change the rules so that the best team on the day can lose, due to some freakish bit of play, in the last five minutes.
Peter Fitzsimons, in The Herald, has said that it is a good thing because it will 'attract morons'. You can only assume he is being facetious.
One of our international netballers, Jo Weston, put it better: 'There are only so many bells and whistles on a bike before it becomes a clown car'.