Monday, July 6, 2015

Unbroken by Alex McKinnon

Fifteen months ago, a young Rugby League player was injured in a tackle that has left him an incomplete quadriplegic. He's written a book to tell his story, but also to raise money for his life ahead. The book's called Unbroken and you can find it here (it's not at regular bookshops).

There's been a lot of support in the Rugby League community for Alex and his book. I intended to buy it and support it because he was injured playing the game I love watching. Last night, a 60 Minutes program interviewed him and it made me waver in my support.

On one hand, last night's program showed me a woman, Teigan Powell, who I admired. At 21, she knew she wanted to be with Alex forever. She'd met him when she was 16, he's 3 years older (I think), and after knowing him for a year, was pushing for everything. When the accident happened, she was studying at uni and they'd just moved in together. Her strength to support him, her genuine love and affection for him, and her determined character were inspirational to see. What a remarkable girl, and an amazing love story.

And then there was the downside. This story is awful enough, it doesn't need extra sensationalisation - yet that's where they went. Shame on 60 Minutes if it was their decision to add to an already emotional and heart breaking story.

They didn't attack the players who made the tackle, but their captain. In a most scathing way, which left me feeling cold.

One thing about rugby league that has always puzzled me, is how you keep playing when someone's been carted off badly injured. I've asked a lot of footy players this over the years (not NRL grade, but other guys) and most people have said that you don't focus on the bloke on the ground. You focus on something else. And that makes sense to me. When I see someone get hurt, usually a few blokes are there and do something until the trainer gets there - some blokes squat down for some reassuring words, some grab the guys hand, pat him on the head or shoulder, there's always something. Once that trainer's there...blokes are gone. You see it over and over again. That's football. Compartmentalise and move on.

When Alex McKinnon was hurt, this is was happened. Then the opposition captain questioned the referee about the tackle, which he is allowed to do. On the 60 Minutes episode, it implied that this questioning went on, unabated, for 10 minutes until Alex left the field. I'm sure no referee would allow that. Referees have about a 1 minute tolerance for a ranting captain in normal games. I can't imagine it was different for this game - but you know, I don't know. And that annoys me. Did 60 Minutes edit the footage so it looked like incessant ranting for 10 minutes? Or did the ref allow it because he too was shocked by the accident?

But no matter what happened, to go after the opposition captain when he's doing his job - sticking up for his blokes, protecting his team, and giving his support to his blokes - is just plain nasty.

And the timing of the attack is just rude.

But it's created discussion for the book. I still don't think you needed to over-dramatise and already dramatic story, but these days it seems to be what's done. Any publicity is good publicity, seems to be the motto.

I'd prefer it if a story was allowed to stand for itself.

If you'd like to support Alex McKinnon and his recovery, as well as adding to your book collection, you can do so by visiting the web page:

Good luck to Alex for his recovery.


  1. I didn't see the show Miss Cate. I was busy all weekend - very social for me - but I do remember Alex and the accident. I'd be with you.

    1. You social butterfly, you :) I'm in the winter hibernation mode!

      Cate xo