COLUMN: Tragic injury puts game into perspective

Alex McKinnon at Hunter Stadum in Newcastle earlier this year.
Alex McKinnon at Hunter Stadum in Newcastle earlier this year.
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This column is usually reserved for Wests Tigers talk.

However, most of the chatter concerning rugby league in the past 76 hours has centred on former St Gregorys College student Alex McKinnon and his interview on current affairs program 60 Minutes.

The former NRL player made headlines for all the wrong reasons on March 24 last year, when a tackle that went wrong left the back-rower an incomplete paraplegic.

He is wheelchair-bound, has feeling in his legs but is unable to move them, and has limited function with his arms.

While it was the Newcastle Knight, his fiancee, family, friends, teammates and Melbourne Storm opposition players involved in the tackle who have been directly affected by what happened, the incident also floored those who had no previous personal connection with McKinnon.

And for good reason.

Parents whose children played rugby league were left wondering: "what if that were my son or daughter?".

Parents in general questioned "what if that were my child?".

Players, both professional and part-time couldn't help but think "that could have been me".

And fans of the "greatest game of all" were left bemused by how serious the consequences of a simple game could be because at the end of the day that's all rugby league is and will ever be — a game.

A game where the ultimate reward is to lift a trophy — a trophy doesn't cure cancer or solve world poverty.

It sits in a cabinet with others gathering dust.

Most NRL players get paid extremely well to pass and kick a ball for a living.

Almost all retire from the game with lingering physical niggles.

Few, like McKinnon, walk away poorer both financially and physically.

When you think about McKinnon, suddenly trophies don't seem that important, do they?

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