The event however came under criticism by the QRL for damaging the image of the game. The club was fined $1000 and required to write a letter of apology. The QRL was further angered by the event as the official QRL logo had been promoted on the advertising material for the "porn and prawn" night (www.couriermail.com).
In defence of the club's actions, Highfield's senior president, Bob Pearce maintained that nothing 'too sleazy' had taken place during the fund-raiser and had dismissed the events of the night as a "bit of fun" (www.sunday mail.com).
Whilst strippers were hired from the Gold Coast for a strip show during the night, a spokesman for the Highfields Rugby League Club assured the public that any sexual acts or prostitution would not be condoned (www.thechronicle.com.au).
Nonetheless young women would be stripping. The provocative dancing associated with stripping engenders very specific pornographic images. This was not the image Rugby League sought for itself. This was the core of the issue. This is very different to young women playing beach volleyball in bikinis, or similar events.
Upon reading many on line comments in response to this story, I have noticed a surge of opinions in defence of the footy club. Some comments posted include an emphasis that people at the club were just having fun. Other comments suggest that a private function is for consenting adults is acceptable and harming no-one (www.thechronicle.com.au).
Given that Australian Rugby League works tirelessly to promote a positive image of the game, this kind of fund raiser has to be deemed as unacceptable. It is well known that children are very influenced by their sporting heroes. Being a role model on the footy fields carries a huge responsibility for players. Their sphere of influence is great and our younger generations will not only be observing players on the field but off the field too.
The harmful effects of pornography are well documented. Dr Robi Sonderegger, an internationally recognised psychologist believes that "pornography forms a highly strategic attack on our culture and families" (www.drrobi.com). Dr Robi urges families to safe guard their children and themselves from the psychological harm caused by pornography.
Dr Allan Myers is a highly recognised speaker, teacher and author who has designed a program for men and the promotion of healthy sexuality. 'Valiant Man' is a program which recognises the addictive notion of pornography and aims to equip men with strategies for overcoming addictive sexual behaviour. Dr Myer's encourages men to take a stand against pornography so that men can maintain sexual integrity (www.careforcelifekeys.org).
In order to provide all participants in Rugby League with some expectations concerning standards of behaviour, the National Code of Conduct has been developed. The general principles governing this code include firstly, discouraging all instance of unsportsmanlike behaviour and secondly, respecting the dignity and worth of others (www.australianrugbyleague.com.au).
The National Code of Conduct has been endorsed by Brisbane Bronco's player, Darren Lockyer: "whether you play in the local 07's or for Australia, there are certain standards that you have to live up to…" (www.australianrugbyleague.com.au).
It can only be hoped that next time there's a fund raiser for a footy club, those participants can remember that their actions are influencing an up and coming generation. Let's hope our local clubs can continue to raise the standards of the game and be committed to behaving with integrity.
Natalie Alexander is a primary school teacher from Cairns who has relocated to the Sunshine Coast.