WHY is violence in sport acceptable?

In front of a capacity crowd and millions watching at home, New South Wales captain Paul Gallen threw a flurry of punches at Queensland player Nate Myles in last night's State of Origin game at Olympic Stadium.

Moments before Gallen hit Myles with a swinging arm tackle, leading to a stand-off before the NSW forward was pushed by Myles and retaliated with a combo of strikes.

When pulled up about the punches by the referee Gallen complained about Myles previous behaviour in tackles.

"He's been head butting series after series and twisting and twisting (legs)," he said.

If the same attack occurred on the streets outside of Olympic Stadium, you have to wonder what the results would have been.

I think being a full contact sport, it's been known for a long time for its aggressive behaviour

Violence is condemned in our society and the one punch can kill campaign has been making inroads to ensuring Australians know that aggressive behaviour will not be tolerated.

But the question remains, why is violence in sport considered borderline acceptable?

Bilambil Jets coach Jim Lenihan said as a full contact aggressive sport, violence in league was not a new concept.

"There was that example set for the first 100 years of league, only in the last 10 years has that changed,' he said.

"I think being a full contact sport, it's been known for a long time for its aggressive behaviour."

Mr Lenihan claimed that different circumstances and dynamics on the field meant that violence in NRL did not mirror violence on the street.

"I think a lot of the one punch can kill stuff is if any person is drunk," he said.

"I've never seen anyone die from one punch."

"On the football field everyone's got each other's back, in the street it could be five-on-one."

Blues' coach Laurie Daley and maroons' coach Mal Meninga were both un-phased by the incident, happy to let Gallen's behaviour slide.

Daley even described Gallen's actions as a great origin moment, explaining that the annual clash demanded a different set of rules to club football.

Mr Lenihan said that in a club game Gallen would have faced much tougher penalties than in the State of Origin.

"It's like it's a special occasion," he said.

Gallen was not sent off for the incident, but will face grade two striking charges at the NRL judiciary today and will likely miss one Origin game.


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