Two items this week have prompted me to think again about Gregory P. Stone’s distinction between play and display (American Sports: Play and Dis-Play, in Eric Larrabee and Rolf Meyersohn (eds.), Mass Leisure. Glencoe, Ill.: Free Press, 1958. See too his discussion of wrestling, 1971).
The ABC reported that “Western Bulldogs coach Rodney Eade says he would not be surprised if AFL opponents were eavesdropping on his match-day coaching instructions.” The report notes that “While other clubs use more secure digital communications system that are encrypted, the Bulldogs have a cheaper analogue system, which Eade said needed upgrading.” Rodney Eade is quoted on the subject of technological vulnerability:
You know that it goes on, so I think as a club and organisation we’ve got to now work ways that it can’t be listened into. On grand final day, you’d hate to think it would cost you a game when a move was predicated and actually didn’t give you the advantage you hoped.
In a second report, the ABC noted that “New Zealand-born photographer Scott Barbour has been banned by the New Zealand Rugby Union (NZRU) from covering the All Blacks’ Bledisloe Cup build-up after he deliberately exposed the team’s game plan.” His image “of coach Graham Henry holding the team’s tactical move was reproduced in Australian media outlets.” The NZ Herald analysed the moves in detail.
The ABC report suggests that “All Blacks assistant coach Steve Hansen described Barbour’s actions as a “breach of trust”, saying he broke an “unwritten rule” by photographing the blueprint displaying moves from lineouts and scrums.” A TVNZ post quotes Steve Hanson: “With any breach of trust you take your time and talk about it. It’s not the end of the world. We will deal with that in our own way.”
Reading both these reports I wondered how these experiences help us clarify:
- What constitutes fair play?
- What role should (any) technology play in sport?
- How skilful can we be in he art of off-field disclosure?
- What role on-field deception should play?
- Will the call for fairness off the field be reciprocated on the field of play?