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Thursday, October 06, 2005

Season 2005 Wrap Up

With the AFL Grand Final finally out of the way, hordes of footy players wreaking havoc on the populace of other places with their end-of-year footy trips, and their pimps and wranglers busily scheming away in (rough) Trade Week, it's time for some quiet reflection.

You see, this blog was motivated by The AFL's annus horribilis in 2004. The investigative journalists at 4 Corners had kicked over the dried turd of professional sport and exposed the writhing worms of drugs, rape and violence that pervades the industry. How has 2005 stacked up?

It's clear that the overpaid and under-educated AFL stars continue to receive "special treatment" at the hands of the police. Even though AFL players get their own free priority taxi service, Sav Rocca got the benefit of a police chauffeur service to spirit him away from the birth of his second son. (Seen one, seen them all, I guess.) Is leaving your wife like that a sign of commitment, or warped values? Dunno - but Nick Stevens would understand, given that he ditched his brother's wedding (where he was meant to be bestman)!

In any case, the police were also clearly pussy-footing around with a very light touch approach to Geelong players in a nightclub brawl. Would anyone else get treated like this? No wonder top cop Simon Overland doubts the ability of his detectives to investigate footy players properly - even over serious allegations like rape, as we saw with the Heath Culpitt "missing evidence" scandal.

What's makes these cosy arrangements with the coppers extremely dangerous is the apparently equally cosy arrangements with the underworld. Whether it's abduction and torture by bikies (Carlton), or emergency legal advice during a gang shoot-out (West Coast) - AFL players are there, right in the thick of it. But what would 22 year-olds making half a million bucks a year want with gangstas and bikies anyway?

Drug-taking was a recurrent theme this year. Ditched player Laurence Angwin came clean about the extent of drug use within the ranks of the AFL. Naturally, officials wanted to bury this, going as far as excluding the AFL from the WADA anti-doping protocol - under pressure from the AFL players' union who wanted to Fight ... for their Right ... to P-a-a-a-r-t-a-y! (Yet they were strangely quiet about the proposal to test player DNA.) The resulting humiliating backdown by the AFL wasn't the only one for the year. After shafting songstress Sylvie Paladino in favour of Delta, the AFL backed down on that one too.

Apart from the Grand Final pre-show entertainment, the other major cultural event in footy land was the Brownlow Medal Count Extravaganza. While the tackiness and desperation were toned down a little on previous years, there was still plenty of shameless pole-climbing on display - not to mention cleavage and fake-tan! Meanwhile, that mainstay of Aussie Rules culture - the massive ego-fest over at The AFL Footy Show - continued to spew its nastiness and poisonous "humour" on the world. When will the suffering end? I guess when seeing Sam Newman drink a bottle of bourbon on stage or expose his willy or dress up in black face paint stops being amusing to AFL fans. Fat chance.

Despite the best efforts of the police, some footy players actually made it into the legal system. The bizarre gang bashing at Fed Square by young thugs Dane Swan, Kade Carey and Aaron Ramsay continues to wend its way through the courts. I believe it's at the County Court now, and look forward to hearing the outcome. I'm sure the family of the beaten guards and intimidated witnesses are too. In another incident, Richmond lost its TAC sponsorship after teenager Shulz hooned through the city at twice the speed limit while pissed as a fart. I guess he couldn't wait for his free priority taxi. And serial pest Karl Norman finally got his come-uppance for trashing his rental property. Karma kicks in eventually.

Despite this criminality, it must be said that the gang rapes appear to be down on last year. This could be due to less reporting of them, increased reluctance by police to investigate, or possibly less rapes going public due to the AFL's deeply offensive rape buy-back policy. (Under this scheme, AFL rapists are given financial penalties and the victim bought off with some cash. We saw how this works previously; perhaps the clubs have perfected it?) Or maybe - just maybe - player education and media scrutiny (like this) has actually resulted in fewer women being raped by AFL players? I think it would be rash to dismiss this possibility entirely.

So even though I've been insulted (someone even called me a journalist!) and threatened with violence I'll continue to publish and update the AFL Player Threat Index, to help people protect themselves against further rapes and bashings. I'll also continue to publish cautionary tales, like that of Gary Ablett, in the hope that people will learn from the past.

Here's hoping that 2006 is a safer season for the rest of us.

Word Count: 891

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  • Hi Greg,
    You asked me to mention stuff you might of missed from you review and I think theres a heap but I don't have it all. So let me mention a few:
    1) The Players association donating $250,000 to the Tsunami appeal (
    2) Melbourne players going to build a school in Indonesia that was destroyed in the Tsunami.
    3) One of the Clarke boys (from St Kilda) winning an award for the charity work that him did with the Sacred Heart Mission in ST Kilda (along with other things).
    4) Glenn Archer of the Roos helping to Organize a house for a disadvantaged fan that lost his mother.

    Is this enough?
    Maybe you could do as much research in this area as you do on the bad side of AFL players!

    Just my thoughts as you asked for them.

    By Blogger mollyfud, at 3:44 pm, October 11, 2005  

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  • G'day Molly,

    Thanks for the post. I was asking for pointers on "the bad side of AFL players" because ... that's what this site is for!

    You see, footy players get tens of thousands of words of praise written about them, week in, week out, when it's simply not justified.

    Take the example you cited of the Melbourne Demon's players briefly help out in Thailand. On Google, there's over 40,000 hits about this.

    Sure, it's great that these millionaires took two booze-free days off their several weeks of holidays in tropical paradise to paint a school (note: they did not build it!). But you have to ask:

    1) With salaries averaging over $200,000, would the Thai people have rather had two days wages from the team (~$80K) than a media festival? Did anyone check with the Thai people?
    2) With thousands of other young Australians quietly volunteering to help rebuild tsunami devastated areas - why did these guys get saturation media coverage? I mean, for several days all newspapers, radio and tv news gave this story top billing - why is that? Is it because society wants to marvel at the novelty of footballers doing something positive?
    3) Why couldn't they have just slipped out of the country and quietly gotten on with the job without informing all the news crews, issuing press statements and the like?

    These must seem like cynical questions, but I'm asking people to reflect on the role of the media, publicity and spin in sports marketing.

    It's a sort of modern-day philosophical poser: if a sports celebrity helps someone out, but no publicist sends a fax, did it really happen?

    Ditto for the $250,000 donation by the players' union. It seems like a lot - but really amounts to less than 0.25% of their income. (I hope that individual players gave more freely.)

    By contrast, another group of millionaires (over at the Macquarie Bank, where average salaries roughly match the AFL) kicked in $1.6M - giving twice as much per capita as the footballers. Apparently noble footballers are only half as generous as greedy merchant bankers!

    It seems that you're trying to make the point that footballers aren't totally selfish. I agree. I just think that they're far more spoilt, privileged and - pardon the expression - molly-coddled than any other group in society. And that is bad news for the rest of us.



    By Blogger Greg, at 4:05 pm, October 13, 2005  

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  • If you feel that the AFL players get far too much press, why have a blog about the bad things that they do? Why not have a blog about how bad the megar (media (for reference to the use of megar listen to

    Personally I feel they get as much bad press as they do good.

    Lets agree to disagree.

    By Blogger mollyfud, at 4:23 pm, October 13, 2005  

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  • What a Gold mine this site is Greg. Have you listened to at all. I have only just stumbled onto your stuff and really wish I had seen it a lot earlier. I'm so glad that there are other people who find the adulation that is heaped upon AFL footballers completely pathetic (NOT GOD's). Sounds like we have a common opinion and I am looking forward to reading more of your stuff as 2006 unfolds.
    All I will suggest (as you are more than well aware) is to be careful with the legal side of things. Otherwise, keep hitting them hard.

    By Anonymous Explosion, at 9:22 pm, February 15, 2006  

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  • Thanks for the positive feedback, Explosion. Yes, I have heard of - though I can't say I've listened. Do you cover off-field incidents and the wider footy culture too?

    I agree that footballer hero-worship is rampant and running unchecked. Strangely, many fans are reluctant to admit this: I suspect they have too much invested emotionally in the game, their team and their favourite players.

    But here's a test: how many people would be happy to hear that their 18 year-old daughter is hanging out with a football team and out "partying" with them? Not many.

    Anyway, there's plenty to catch up on:

    If you've got any tips about news stories or similar, we'd love to hear them.

    You can subscribe via email - please spread the word!



    ps. Statute of limitations for defamation is six years ... so I'd better stay poor for a while yet :-)

    By Blogger Greg, at 12:51 am, February 16, 2006  

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  • Sammy Newman bags nerd on footy show, after referring the nerd to nerd creates
    Do you think Sam Newman is the biggest dickhead on t.v?

    By Blogger thsadmin, at 3:25 am, March 31, 2006  

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