Since when did calling a referee a cheat become “trivial”?

During the 60th minute of the Melbourne Storm v Parramatta Eels NRL game yesterday, Chris Sandow, the Parramatta Eels halfback, posed the following question to referee Ben Cummins:

“How much are they paying you?”

Sandow was rightly sin-binned.  Astonishingly, the coach of the Parramatta Eels has defended Sandow as follows:

“It was pretty trivial and we need to grow up a little bit and get on with refereeing the game.”

In one statement Arthur has not only called branding the refereeing a cheat but sought to allude that the blame for the sin-binning rested with the referee.

I have written before on this blog about the diminution in respect for the referee / umpire’s decision across a wide range of sports but the events of the weekend really take the metaphorical cake for me.

I know I come from an old school where the word of the referee was sacrosanct and the decisions of a referee of any game were to be respected and not complained about but calling the referee a cheat straight to his face is surely something, whether you are from an old or new school of thought, that MUST be eradicated from the game rather than lionised.

Sandow’s offence was bad enough but the support of him by his coach is, frankly, conduct not becoming of any coach let alone an NRL coach.

The media, too, has not helped.  References to “cheeky” Chris Sandow in by-lines and lead in paragraphs does the gravity of this appalling conduct no favours.

Referees are under scrutiny now than they ever have been before.  At the same time the respect for match officials is at an all time low.  The regular screaming at referees about innocuous decisions by the likes of Gallen and Bird has become acceptable it would seem.  I sincerely hope that conduct like Sandow, and his coach, does not become the next type of conduct that is acceptable.

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