Allegations have emerged today of a shocking practice at Collingwood: forced sterilisation of its players. Former Collingwood premiership player James Manson has come forward about his involuntary vasectomy, carried out under the guise of one of his many groin and hernia operations:
"You don't have a low sperm count," the doctor told the retired ruckman. "You have no sperm count at all. You've had a vasectomy."
"No, I haven't," Manson replied. "Yes, you have," the doctor said. (The Age, 28/8/2005)
Manson is now undergoing complex fertility treatment, including IVF, in the hope of having children with his wife. Sadly, this is not an isolated incident and at least one other player from Collingwood's premiership team is believed to also be undergoing IVF as a result of Collingwood's groinal practices during the period.
Manson warned other players through the AFL Players' Association:
"If it means a young kid of 19 or 20 thinks about the treatment he is receiving and looks beyond a footy career to the rest of his life, then it's worth it," Manson said.(ibid)
In any case, younger players should consider making a deposit at the sperm bank as insurance. Or at the very least spend a Saturday night in the off-season at an outer suburban nightclub.
While Manson has discussed the issue with Collingwood President and media personality Eddie McGuire, no statement is forthcoming. This is not surprising, as it is impossible to imagine what one might say in defence of the practice of rendering key players infertile - without their knowledge or consent.
It also seems like a short-term tactic: many great footballers come from high-profile footballing families, such as the Abletts and the Shaws. Indeed the AFL has a specific Father/Son policy that allows sons to play with their father's team (for those players whose father is known and prepared to admit the pregnancy).
The supposed benefits of the procedure are still unclear. While the reduction in illegitimate offspring may help the players' finances, it probably won't help the club. Another possibility is that Collingwood may have been labouring under the (false) belief that a vasectomy would have castration-like effects of producing larger, docile players, better able to focus on training and more pliable and responsive to club discipline. Of course, the concomitant desire for such gelded players to gather groups of women, bathe them in oils, comb their hair and guard them from menfolk would interfere with their training regime.
But rather than speculate, perhaps we should let the results speak for themselves: during the period of forced sterilisation, Collingwood won its sole premiership for the last forty years. That said, the club's behaviour in this matter is unconscionable and we here at The Speccy to do not condone it.
Citations: The Age, 28/8/2005
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