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The Forum > Article Comments > The football violence is striking > Comments

The football violence is striking : Comments

By Dennis Hemphill, published 6/7/2010

Another week in the Australian Football League, and another controversial issue.

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Well said, Dennis!

Football has always been a naturally vigorous and physical sport, providing opportunity for men to display their courage. With video technology and the right determination we now have opportunity to eliminate off-the-ball cowardice.

However, a suspension to Baker of half as long would have been enough to send the same message. As it is, with their inconsistency and selectivity in picking on Baker, the League has made Baker look like a scapegoat or a martyr. Perhaps this is their effort to draw a line in the sand. But weíll see if they can try and show some kind of consistency going forward.
Posted by Dan S de Merengue, Tuesday, 6 July 2010 10:39:32 AM
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Agreed. The sport is a contact sport, there are times that accidents will happen but when the ball is clearly not in play there is no reason for any player to touch another and never an excuse for sledging (regardless of what the sport is).

They should stop letting sports tribunals with a vested financial interest in the sport manage assault's when they occur and make them a police matter with the sort of consequences which would apply to assaulting someone else at any other workplace. There should be no shortage of evidence in most instances.

R0bert
Posted by R0bert, Tuesday, 6 July 2010 6:29:22 PM
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Good points Dan S and RObert.

Our liberal democracy offers up self-regulation as an alternative to direct government intervention, especially in sporting matters. There are relatively few occasions when the full weight of criminal law bears down on athlete on-field behaviour. I can recall in Canada years ago the Attorney General of Ontario sending in police squads to Maple Leaf Gardens in Toronto and laying assault charges on ice hockey players who struck opponents on the head with their sticks. All part of the game...not. Apart from Leigh Matthews being charged by Victoria Police with the on-field assault of Neville Bruns, there have been relatively few incidents of direct police/state intervention in Australian sport.

With AFL self-regulation through the tribunal, it is not expected that decisions will have the same legal precision and consistency as criminal law. However, it does give the AFL the ability to act decisively and quickly (much more so than criminal proceedings) to deal with incidents that are thought to be bad for the game. Maybe the lack of consistency is part of the trade-off.
Posted by DHemphill, Tuesday, 6 July 2010 8:54:47 PM
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DHemphill, in some way's the tribunals are far better, as you say they are less constrained and far faster than the criminal legal system.

They do have the problem in that they don't treat assault they way it's treated in the real world. In some way's it reminds me of bishop's dealing with child abuse by priests, no matter how decent the bishop was the issue of the good of the church was always going to be a hindrance to them both dealing with the issue properly and being seen to do so.

I assume players have the option of making a complaint to police if they choose but I'd guess that the internal culture would be heavily against that.

Maybe if the tribunal's started handing out lifetime ban's from paid employment in the industry (with other codes backing those ban's) some might take their actions more seriously. Most of us would have serious problems not only remaining in our current job's but finding future employment in our fields of work if assault of other workers was once an issue let alone a regular behavior.

R0bert
Posted by R0bert, Tuesday, 6 July 2010 9:37:54 PM
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R0bert,
I might be stating the obvious, but we canít judge acts on a football field the same as we judge assault in the regular world. Itís a contact sport. In the real world, you canít legally pin someoneís arms in a tackle, drop them to the ground, or rest your knee on someoneís shoulder while catching a ball. The comparison canít be made. (And comparing it with abusive priests is also drawing a long bow. If you like, perhaps compare child abuse in churches with child abuse in the regular home. I think statistics say that children are better off in church. But I think that is a different debate.)

Life time bans are pretty serious, but I agree may be appropriate in some circumstances. The Leigh Matthews Ė Neville Bruns case was about the most serious type of incident that Iíve ever seen. It was truly violent and a long way off the ball. From memory, I think the police may have got involved because the league was seen to be a bit slow to act. What would have happened to Matthews if Bruns was seriously maimed? Fortunately this type of thing is pretty rare and we are more aware of the imperative to stamp it out. As it is, Matthews went on to become a legend of the game, four-time Premiership coach, has a bronze statue of himself next to the MCG, and is a current channel 10 commentator.
Posted by Dan S de Merengue, Wednesday, 7 July 2010 12:30:43 PM
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