Bound by much pressure from the media, first-grade players of the National Rugby League have responsibilities on becoming role models, even off the field. Contracts signed by players include an elaborate Code of Conduct. The code is set to make sure that the players have understood their positions not just as members but as role models of the society. All their actions reflect the reputation everyone in the league, and any misconduct of a single individual will definitely tarnish it.
As the media put more publicity to these professional players, news regarding their career and personal life spring everywhere. The evolution of the Internet and social media also makes it easier for everyone to access this news. The NRL online store alone has generated so much revenue. Regardless if they choose to or not, players are already being looked upon especially by children. And since publicity is good for business, the best that the organization can do is control their members’ behavior.
The code aims to minimize behavioral issues among players and emphasize the focus on education and welfare programs, as agreed upon by stakeholders. This helps not just the reputation of the leagues and its members, but also in building a life that balances not just football but other career opportunities. One of the conditions stipulated in the code is that the players must always conduct themselves in a professional, courteous and sober manner, at all times. The league is confident that the programs and initiatives indeed work, followed immediately by a disclaimer statement that it cannot guarantee that there won’t be any problems.
Players attend training and workshops across areas of Financial Planning, Alcohol Management, Social Media Responsibilities, Cultural Awareness, Sexual Ethics, Media Presentation, Illicit Drugs and Developing Personal Brand. These are further reinforced by recursive trainings in the duration of the player’s professional career.
Players are also involved in various initiatives which include employment expos and Indigenous education. In community initiatives, players take part in coaching clinics, hospital visits, junior carnivals and school-based programs. Aside from the NRL online store revenue, the players also helped raise funds for charitable programs. The most notable of these programs is the league’s One Community program, delivered to over a thousand schools.