Chris, We Need To Talk

Dear Chris

This is hard to write. I’m no good with feelings, and this letter has taken everything out of me.

But, Chris, there’s something we need to talk about. It’s been gnawing at me for a while now, but until this morning it was just something buried in the back of my mind.

You need to know how much you used to mean to me. I first noticed you a few years ago. What you did seemed fresh and I used to love the way you weren’t afraid to tell it how it was.

I now realise how young and naive I was.

Looking back, the warning signs were there, if only I’d paid more heed to them.

I think it was 2007 when I first felt any doubts. They were momentary doubts, but I should have paid more attention to my intuition. At the time I dismissed what you said as harmless hyperbole. You said:

Let’s face it. Wales are rubbish. They are the village idiots of rugby union. They have fans who live for the game, administrators who’ve killed it and players who lie down for the cause.

Chris, that hurt. I’ve been to Wales a few times, and I’ve always enjoyed the company of the locals. They adore New Zealanders and they love our rugby. What would possess you to say such a nasty thing?

And then after 2007 you started to write column after column of vitriol attacking the NZRU and its re-selection of Graeme Henry. Your tone became increasingly strident, as if all the ails that beset New Zealand rugby could be easily cured. I began to wonder if you were living in another time, and if you’d noticed that professionalism changed everything. Did you have nothing else to write about?

Chris, I never saw the anger until it was too late. Every week I’d find another story attacking hapless sports administrators, and blasting our national obsession, and yet somehow I managed to block them out. Your bitterness began to reach extravagant levels and still I pretended not to see it.

But this morning it all came together. You crossed a line. And then I realised what had happened.

Chris, we need to talk. I need to tell you some things. You are the print version of Murray Deaker. You are to sports journalism what Michael Laws is to sensible political discourse. You express opinions loudly, and castigate anyone with a contrary view. I just don’t know how you can hold any informed opinions about the state of New Zealand rugby when you admit to being too bored to watch much of the Super 14.

Chris, things are too far gone for us to patch things up. So I think this might be it. I’m sure I’ll see your articles now and then, and it will be hard to just let my eyes stroll right on past them, but I know that’s what I have to do. I have to move on. It’s better for both of us that way.