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Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Footy Finances Exposed

Getting a handle on the complex financial dealings of the AFL is challenging. Footy is now a huge business involving massive salaries, mind-boggling media deals and alarming commercial transactions. Drawing on a number of public sources, this week we attempt to distill the financial essence of the game in a format even footy fans can understand.

After our research team spent hours poring over various AFL financial reports, individual club statements and a wealth of independent media analyses, we concluded that AFL's business is extremely complex. Money flows in from:

  • media businesses ($200M p.a.) for the right to broadcast games,
  • government subsidies ($55M p.a.) for being real Aussies, Update: Real figure is closer to $33M for 06/07 financial year. It may vary from year to year.
  • gambling businesses ($10M p.a.) for, well, we can't figure it out,
  • sponsorships,
  • ticket sales,
  • club memberships,
  • catering.
This last one is particularly controversial, after Telstra Dome's boss Ian Collins conceded that the half-time pass-out ban was, in part, about protecting caterers' revenue (and hence licensing revenue for the game) on the extraordinarily expensive food on offer.

Rather than try to provide a detailed breakdown of this knotted ball of entwined dealings, we've prepared a chart that picks two ends of the thread and pulls:


So, meat pies cost something like $7 at the footy venues. Cocaine costs around $250 per gram on the street (according to the Australian Institute of Criminology). No one is suggesting that the bulk of the cocaine and other illicit drugs consumed by footballers comes from pie sales. Despite the large number of pies sold each year - plus the gobsmacking mark-ups - most of the AFL revenue comes from media and sponsorship deals. This illustrates just how important it is to the AFL that we sit on our couches and watch ads interspersed with footy.

On the other side of the equation, how much of the AFL's outgoings end up being spent on drugs? As expected the AFL Annual Report (2006) didn't include a breakout for this item. It did indicate that some $133M was spent last year on around 640 players, and average salaries were around $220K. Player income is more than 60% of the AFL's expenses.

It is, of course, extremely difficult to get a robust estimate of the proportion of income the average footballer spends on illicit drugs. As it happens, our researchers could only dig up one data point published by an organisation shielded by defamation lawyers:

It is said that [Ben] Cousins was spending about $3000 a week on drugs from his annual salary of $800,000. (Herald-Sun, 25/3/2007)

In before-tax terms, if the Murdoch press is to be believed, this particular player is allegedly spending $156K per year, out of $800K, yielding a soft estimate of around 20%. Is this likely to be high or low?

On the one hand, this is likely to be too high. Cousins, after all, is in continuing rehabilitation, apparently for his raging ice addiction. As such, he may be spending a disproportionately large amount of his income on drugs.

On the other hand, it may be an underestimate. Cousins is a highly paid AFL footballer - probably in the top 5% of earners - so as a percentage his habit is probably small. Also, his preferred drug is allegedly crystal methamphetamine, typically half the price of cocaine. And let's not forget that while dozens of other players have tested positive for using drugs, Cousins escaped detection. Can we presume, therefore, that Cousins wasn't using drugs at the highest rate? (There are other - more sinister - reasons why some players avoid detection and others don't.) So considering these countervailing arguments, maybe 20% isn't too far off the mark.

Naturally, not all footballers are regular users. It's hard to get a feel for the proportion that are - certainly the AFL drug testing regime is thoroughly discredited and of no help at all. Dale Lewis famously suggested that it was about 75% (before being dismissed and attacked by AFL officials). Lawrence Angwin suggested "five out of the nine in the leadership group" were out on pills the night before he got canned. John Worsfold claimed that eight Eagles admitted to drug use (out of 40 in the squad, that's 20%). Let's split the difference and call it 50%.

If the 20% of income guesstimate is applied across the 50% of user-players, then in ball-park terms, we're talking about 10% of $133M. This is something like $10M per year flowing into the coffers of drug dealers from AFL footballers.

That's a disturbingly large figure. If anyone's got a better estimate for either the proportion of income spent on drugs or the proportion of footballers who regularly use drugs, please run it past a defamation lawyer, get it published and then send us the link. We'll be glad to update this estimate in light of new information.

Ten million bucks a year on drugs? That's a lot of overpriced pies.

*** UPDATE ***

More insight into how the AFL makes its rivers of cash came to light in the past week. It's not all selling overpriced pies - there's many lines of business to exploit, and once again, the AFL isn't shy about taking people to court when it feels its million-dollar interests are threatened.

The AFL is claiming that discount clothing retailer Dimmeys and Forges (famous for its use of tax-dodging former footballer Dipper) is violating the AFL's "intellectual property" (groan) by selling "knock-off" (their words, not mine) shirts in club colours:


A $20 shirt from Dimmeys.
Source: The Age


The equivalent, properly licensed shirt costs around $75. So, want to support your club? Pay a $50 premium to the retailer, who then kicks some back to the AFL, who dole a bit out the club, which then trickles down to the players' salaries, so a portion of that can end up with purveyors of Australia's finest imported cocaine.

Dimmeys, champion of the underdog and the Western suburbs in general, has vowed to fight the case. As Dimmey's Ken Hampson said "The AFL owns trademarks but it doesn't own every bird that exists in Australia. It doesn't own every magpie." Oh Ken. So naive. How much you have to learn about how the AFL does business.

Remember when grannies used to knit scarves in their team colours? Or kids would show up with their faces painted? Once, that was a symbol of belonging. Now it's just forgone revenue and someone has to pay. Do you think the AFL is happy seeing adjacent red, white and black stripes on a little kid's shirt without the $50 AFL imprimatur on it? That's one less player on a seven figure contract. Someone call Amnesty International!

Once the greedy AFL licensing behemoth gets up a head of steam, you can forget about getting within 100m of the 'G in unsanctioned face paint, yet alone wearing an illegal backyard scarf that literally sucks the lifeforce from our struggling clubs. This is the message they will be getting out: "Club spirit? No thanks, we'll just take the cash!"

Does anyone else sometimes wonder if the long-term interests of the game aren't being jeopardised by the short-term needs of administrators forced to justify their own million-dollar salaries?

Citations: Herald-Sun, 25/3/2007

Word Count: 844


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Contribute         

26 Comments:

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  • And the latest farcical saga in relation to the Drugs code only serves to portray the whole Policy as being ridiculous. A Hawthorn player who has been identified for "random testing" says that he is unable to urinate and is let off the hook? What other drug testing regime worldwide would accept this as an excuse? They would follow him night and day until he is able to take a piss in a little bottle. Now the AFL has put a "gag order" on clubs discussing drugs or testing with the media. What are they attempting to cover up apart from their own inadequacies in dealing with a serious problem.
    My issue with this whole thing is that unfortunately, the general public lump so much adulation on footballers and football in general that they don't want to KNOW the truth behind some of these farcical decisions from AD and AA.
    You should speak to the boys at Footytalk as they consider footy players in much the same vein as you. "NOT GOD's"

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 11:55 am, May 17, 2007  

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  • Thanks for the tip - I had a spray about the dodgy drug tests earlier.

    I've had a look at Footytalk and it seems that while they clearly love the game, they keep a critical eye on the machinations and goings-on in what is now a massive money spinner.

    Definitely one source to monitor for more balanced AFL coverage.

    By Blogger Greg, at 12:39 pm, May 17, 2007  

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  • Your calculations are somewhat disturbing Greg - and I would say from both seeing certain things, and also anecdotal evidence, that your calculations are based on an "underestimation" of the problem.

    These types of critical viewpoints on the managment of our game (unfortunately it is losing that tag the longer these morons run the game) are important to keep perspective on the whole farce.
    I for one applaud you.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 2:06 pm, May 17, 2007  

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  • I am not commenting on the "Footy Finances Exposed" post as such as you prove yourself an idiot and totally unrelyable by suggesting (as bad as the prices are) that a pie cost $7 at the footy. Maybe if some ground is selling family pies, but really.

    But on first comment by your favourite commentor, "anonymous", he should get his facts straight before commenting.

    Although I do agree that the Footytalk.com.au guys are great (definitely the best footy podcast) he has all the facts about the drug testing at Hawthorn. If I didn't know better I would think that he had just got all his facts from the newspapers which is a silly idea at best.

    a) The player never knew that he was wanted for a second test because the league medical officer changed the person to be tested.
    b) I am not sure any other "drug testing regime" would come up with the situation because to me knowledge the AFL are one of the few to test for illicited drugs outside of game day! What happen was the player had already given a sample for the WADA people and the drug testers for the illegal drugs testing rang the AFL medco and asked what they should do and they said just pick someone else.

    So please get the facts right (I am sure Greg you don't want to put out incorrect info (lol, heheh, ROFL)).

    TIA
    Molly

    By Anonymous Phillip Molly Malone, at 8:43 am, May 19, 2007  

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  • Hey Mollster,

    Great to see you blindly mimicking your hero Sam Newman by rudely decrying people as idiots.

    No, WADA was not involved. It's ASADA. Check the facts on the update on my earlier post.

    As for your assertion that only AFL tests for illict drugs outside of game days ... I'm afraid you've just bought the AFL's spin on that.

    Seriously, Molly, you've dropped several notches in my esteem for that remark: I alwyas knew you were a fanboi for the AFL but now it seems you've sunk to a new level of fawning fool.

    Here's some links to edjucait yourself:

    US College Athletes
    NZ Sports (including Rugby)
    UEFA (European Soccer)
    Australian Badminton
    And, of course, NRL

    Here's a list of rules and banned substances for ASADA (the government testers).

    Note that in no testing regime ever in the world is it acceptable for a randomly-selected athlete to "unselect" himself - except for in the AFL. How can they say they they really want to catch drug users? How can the millions of Australians lolling around on the couch with their $70/month Foxtel subscriptions believe the AFL on this?

    What a joke. And Molly, I'd advise you to stay away from serious athletes - you're such a dope for publicly buying Andrew Demetriou's bullshit that any contact with you would render a positive test result.

    Oh - how much is a pie at the footy, btw?

    By Blogger Greg, at 5:51 pm, May 21, 2007  

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  • It is incredible that many people buy Andrew Demetriou's crap. Most football players around the world are tested pretty much all the time. The soccer players play so much that they are never really out of season and are constantly tested. It is interesting today that a European court have found that Adrian Mutu owes money to Chelsea because he tested positive for cocaine. ( In a random check) He cost the club money by devaluing his market value and the court has ordered Fifa to determine the damages to Chelsea. Given he was bought for £16M and was sold for £5M, the compensation is likely to be high. Can you imagine if the West Coast took the same action against Ben Cousins. Mutu was not a habitual abuser, just got caught out after a big night in London. Both the west Coast Eagles and the AFL have demonstrated that they neither have the morals or the courage to take some steps. Football clubs suing their players for drug usage. I'd like to see that. I am guessing it would get rid of much of the bad behaviour currently shown.

    By Blogger Simon, at 11:16 pm, May 22, 2007  

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  • Thanks, Simon. Even more evidence to expose the AFL's spin. The contrast between the shabby AFL and proper sporting codes in how to deal with cases like Adrian Mutu's is truly striking.

    I think it's very easy for the AFL to keep Australia's sports fans in the dark and feed them shit. (For starters, many just don't want to know.)

    Reminding them that there is a better way is very worthwhile.

    By Blogger Greg, at 11:33 pm, May 22, 2007  

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  • I think the AFLPA have done a brilliant job of pointing out the gross in accurancys most have when they talk about the drug code.
    The government is beating it chest on the AFL's Drug stance but the players have put them back in their place (for the time being, the answers to the questions should be interesting if the government doesn't dodge them) by put forward 8 questions to the government: http://www.afl.com.au/Season2007/News/NewsArticle/tabid/208/Default.aspx?newsId=43872

    And Greg, on the Badminton, I looked at the link quickly and couldn't see anything on illicit drugs while the players where on holidays with their family. Could you point out the section?

    Also I know it was ASAD but correct me I am wrong they were there performing Performance Enhancing Drug tests as part of the WADA code and possibly on behalf of WADA (not sure the technicalities of the testing) and thats why I refered to them as the WADA People.

    Now you also misquoted me as I said "one of the few to test for illicited drugs outside of game day" and you seemed to think I said only. No only that, you didn't give many examples and even then one is already in doubt (not wrong, just doubt).

    I also love it when you call me names as it shows that I am getting to you with facts that you can't argue against. You know its okay to say you were wrong, right?

    I also agree that the AFL and their drug testers made a mistake not continuing to wait to test the player but to suggest that the player is guilty because of this is a huge huge huge huge huge huge leap that I hope even you wouldn't try to sell. If you do try to sell it perhaps you should bid for the catering for the footy as if you sell that you might just be able to sell pies for $7!

    Molly
    PS. The normal price in Melbourne is $4 so you where out by less then %50 which for you is probably an improvement!!!!!

    JMTC
    Molly

    By Anonymous Phillip Molly Malone, at 5:09 pm, May 24, 2007  

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  • Ah, Molly, you're back. Thick skinned, I see. Great.

    Quote: I looked at the link quickly and couldn't see anything on illicit drugs while the players where on holidays with their family. Could you point out the section?

    That would be here, Q17 "Where Can Testing Take Place?":

    Testing can happen at a tournament (In Competition Testing) or during the year when you are not at a tournament (Out of Competition Testing) – at training, at home etc.

    I had a look at the AFLPA's spin release, and I can't wait for ministers Christopher "The Whine" Pyne and (former barrister) George "The Rat" Brandis to get stuck in.

    If I can come up with two good reasons for testing AFL players for illict drug use in the off-season (ripping off fans and poor role-models), I'm sure these experienced combatants will have no problem shooting down these lightweights.

    Let's not forget that the AFL gets $55M a year in government grants and subsidies, not to mention the free development of their sports stadia etc.

    And, no, I have never implied that the individual player would have tested positive. I have only used this sorry tale to mock and scoff at the league's deliberately piss-poor (pardon the pun) efforts at testing.

    As for pies prices ... I'll see how I go in the next couple of weeks buying a pie for $4 at the footy. Will I get a discount if I mention your name?

    By Blogger Greg, at 6:48 pm, May 24, 2007  

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  • Well, that was funny. The AFL have just played the Government on the break. I bet you won't hear the government talking about the AFL's dug policy any time soon.

    And wouldn't you think little Jonny Howler would actually learn a little about the policy before he bagged it? Using the School Concillor from SOuthparks argument ("the afl's drug policy is bad, okay") was really lame. Oh well, he will be able to enjoy his last few months in office, I guess.

    Molly

    By Anonymous Phillip Molly Malone, at 8:06 am, May 26, 2007  

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  • Well now Jeff Kennett has said that the drug testing regime is ok, I guess it will be alright. Must be ok for the Hawks. How much evidence do you want that the AFL is not the only sport testing outside of competition. The running back of the Miami Dolphins, Ricky Williams, tested positive for drugs in April. Now I am guessing there are not too many NFL games involving the Miami Dolphins in April, in fact they are not even in pre season. The list of facts that demonstrate how much the AFL are misleading their fans is almost endless.
    The positive for the AFL players of this is they do not have a franchise on stupidity. Williams was already suspended for drug use when he tested positive. He should look at being recruited to the Eagles. They need strong running players. Imagine that though, a player being suspended for using drugs. Something you will never see in AFL

    By Blogger Simon, at 12:42 am, May 27, 2007  

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  • Who is saying that the AFL is "..the only sport testing outside of competition"?

    Molly

    By Anonymous Phillip Molly Malone, at 11:01 pm, May 27, 2007  

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  • The AFL are. Andrew Demetriou is always saying it to justify their drug stance. He uses it as an example on how they are tough on drugs. The players association is now considering withdrawing their permission for ' out of competition' testing now because of the government's somewhat clumsy interjection into the process. You yourself have said, the AFL is ' one of the few'. The reality is that virtually all professional codes of sport test outside of competition and most test in the off season. The AFL and the players association treat their fans with disdain. AFL is a great game, and with all the efforts in South Africa, really seem to want to expand internationally. Unless they get their house in order on this matter they will be a laughing stock. I can't imagine any other sport where the players would even consider they can withdraw their support for anything to do with drug testing and it would be considered. There is too much money associated with sport now days to have stoned wankers running around the field. They choose to have the benefits of their profession so they should be able to take being asked to piss in a bottle every so often. The players association should certainly not have the right to withdraw anything.

    By Blogger Simon, at 1:12 am, May 28, 2007  

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  • A) i think (and could be wrong) that AD normally says or infers they are one of the only Australian sports that have an "Illicit Drug policy" for out of competition testing. I believe that they are. I think you will find (and am happy to be proven wrong because I am not an expert) that some/most other sports have out of competition Performance enhancing drug tests that do include some drugs normally in the illicit drug category but they don't have an illicit drug test as such.
    b) If there was "stoned wankers running around the field" they would be risking a two year ban under the WADA code that the AFL are a full member of. The AFL's illicit Drug policy is over and above that of WADA
    C) If this is such a huge issue (and it probably is) why isn't the government or WADA upgrading there policy to include out of competition drug testing and then all the sports would be covered and this would be a non issue!
    D) You have to admit that the Government stuffed this one up and looked weak and stupid! Howard was embarassing in his comments and knowledge of the issue!

    JMTC
    Molly

    By Anonymous Phillip Molly Malone, at 1:47 pm, May 28, 2007  

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  • Well that may be AD's current stance, but these are his words "So where does the AFL differ from other sporting codes? We differ because we are the only sport that tests players for illicit drugs on non-match days.

    "If you are a player in another code, we don't know if there is a problem with illicit drug use because there is no testing outside of match day."

    quoted from this article http://www.leaguehq.com.au/news/news/no-substance-to-afl-drug-claims/2007/04/03/1175366244064.html

    That was from a column written by AD himself, if he didn't know it was a bald faced lie when he wrote it then he is an idiot. I don't think he is an idiot.

    Cheers,
    Paul

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 3:51 pm, May 28, 2007  

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  • Certainly from the link provided above, David Gallop from the NRL is saying that rugby players are tested for illicit drugs on non competition days. So one of them is a liar I guess. It seems AD does conveniently use language to further his case. A lie is a lie no matter however it is dressed up semantically.
    Let's argue for a while that the AFL is the only Australian sport that tests for illicit drugs outside of game day. Do you want to have the code of football held to what is the lowest level of accountability ? Most other professional sporting codes that demand huge television and sponsorship dollars do conduct testing outside of competition for illicit drugs. Ricky Williams tested positive for marihuana in April. I am sure you would agree that marihuana is not a performance enhancing drug for a running back ( although it may make the NFL more entertaining if the running backs were stoned) , nor is April in the NFL season. Therefore, it proves that other codes do test outside of season ( non compete days) and test for illicit drugs.

    Two other sports, major league baseball and premiership football, do test for illicit drugs during the season. The in competition and out of competition argument is mute with these sports, as the number of games they play during the season is huge and so they tend to be playing at least every three or four days. Cocaine in particular stays traceable for three days, marijuana , theoretically for weeks, so they would tend to show up if they were used. These athletes are held to a much stricter code when it comes to both performance and illicit drugs. As a supporter of the AFL don't you think the players, who command big salaries, should be held as accountable. The penalties are also significant, both in playing time and financial.

    On the stoned wankers thing. Ketamine is not tested for at all by any drug testing code. While I am not suggesting that any players has ever played AFL on this drug, which could be considered performance enhancing, it is not outside the realms of possibility that some player at some time may have been under the influence of the drug when playing. Drugs usage can undermine both the spectacle and the prestige of a sport or an event. Look at the Tour de France. It is a complete joke now. Do you really want people to say that if a player has a great game that an opposition fan says' Oh he was probably on ice'. Why haven't the AFL included Ketamine in the drugs test ?

    Not sure it is the governments place to legislate about sport and yes I do agree that the handling of the issue by the federal government was clumsy at best and incompetent at worst. Just the actions of a government who has been in power for too long and believes its own rhetoric. Shame really.

    Paul AD isn't an idiot. He is just a very weak administrator who is scared of his players union, and tries to protect the clean image of the game to the detriment of the truth. The fear of upsetting the players, or having the game's image tarnished overwhelms common sense and doing what is right. He is not for first ' politician' to suffer from that dilemma. He is just making the mistake all mediocre administrators make. He will probably get another pay rise.

    By Blogger Simon, at 6:02 pm, May 28, 2007  

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  • Simon, I totally disagree with you saying that AD is weak. If he or the AFL where weak they would just throw out there own beliefs and investigation and change their policy even though they and THE EXPERTS believe that their policy is the correct approach!

    Plus for all the people that are calling for Zero tolerance and that players should be sacked if they are found taking drugs, are they going to council the family of the player that is sacked like this and then commits suicide?
    Didn't think so.
    The AFL have the right policy and just need to work on the execution!
    Molly

    By Anonymous Phillip Molly Malone, at 7:55 am, May 29, 2007  

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  • I don't think AD is weak either, but I can see where Simon is coming from.

    IMO AD is very strong when it comes to defending the codes image, whether it's at the expense of truth, integrity and decency is irrelevant to his mind as long as the right message for the for the image of the game is heard by as many people as possible, as early and often as possible.

    I think another perspective, one Simon is taking, is that AD is weak because he wields that power only with the media and the general public, he does not have the intestinal fortitude to face the codes massive problems head on. He hides behind "best advice" and "expert opinion" to justify the most haphazard drug code I've ever heard of in a professional sport. Not to mention the sheer number of violent incidents catalogued in detail on this blog.

    AFL players are just people, but when a particular group of people start being conected to such heinous behaviour it would seem prudent to take steps against them, AD hasn't had the guts to do so at all, even though he is the man best positioned to do so. The players association wields far too much power, AD is a puppet.

    Yes I think he will get another pay rise.

    Paul

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 9:20 am, May 29, 2007  

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  • Thats a mighty leap there Molly, suicide IMO is a far more likely consequence of ongoing substance abuse than early intervention and prevention.

    Justify it all you like, the policy is a joke and only the AFL, their collection of "experts" and the blindly loyal say different.

    Paul.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 9:25 am, May 29, 2007  

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  • This is becoming a joke!
    a) AD has taken someone other then the media on, he has take the problem on (when few others have) and he also welcomed a meeting with the government who when they came got roundly smashed and has run away with their tails between their legs.
    b) Yes the AFL have taken steps against this "heinous behaviour" and they have chosen to follow the experts advice that Education and support is better them a big stick and public humiliation.
    c) I was interested to learn that the AFL aren't the only ones with a multi strike policy. Firstly a lot of the US sports brought up in the comments on this thread have a multiple strike policy and from what I hear, so does Mines that have drug policies as well! Why not go after them as well?

    I know it must hurt you that you, like the government, can't lay any blows against the AFL, but instead of bagging them, maybe you should start working on the others that don't take this as seriously as the AFL does!
    Molly

    By Anonymous Phillip Molly Malone, at 1:00 pm, May 29, 2007  

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  • Molly, your blind devotion is to your cause is admirable, but the suicide comment is so over the top. As mentioned, suicide is far more likely as the result of drug abuse than someone loosing their job. They can still be idolised in the country somewhere

    What AD did was hardly take the government on. He had a discussion with them and they botched it. His courage isn't demonstrated by their ineptitude. They self destructed. End of the day Paul is right. AD hides behind experts to justify his stance, which is essentially one of a weak administrator. As I am sure you are aware, you can hire experts to give their opinion on anything, and people tend to use experts that reinforce the agenda they are pushing. Weak Politicians are experts in this, AD seems no exception.

    The US sports do have a multi strike issue. There is one big difference. They are suspended and named after the first offense. They are out of the game by the third or fourth. Interestingly, the US experts feel that public ' humiliation' as you call it, helps with the rehabilitation process. Most, if not all rehab programs, call for the person being rehabilitated to face up to both private and public discussion on their abuses. ( at the right time) Never trust an expert I guess. The other issue that you need to take into consideration is that US sports have a number of complex social issues that the AFL does not have. This provides a greater need for a stricter code.

    Constructive criticism is not 'bagging'. It seems the AFL and their supporters like you Molly feel the AFL administrators and players are infallible. They cannot improve. That is a formula for extinction. ( Not of the code but of the administrators) . Then what will you have to defend.
    Their drug testing program is a joke. Driven by the power of the players union and AD's willingness to be tough on those who can't fight back. ( the sporting media and the fans), but not tough on the ones who at the moment can effect him. ( AFLPA) He is little better than a school boy bully. The drug testing will change next year, but too what? I am guessing that the AFLPA will not be happy. then see how much they care about the fans.

    I

    By Blogger Simon, at 5:25 pm, May 29, 2007  

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  • Molly you will be proud of the recent spin by the AFL in reeling out their experts to justify their stance. Three experts have come out in defense of the drug policy, citing privacy etc as reasons for not divulging the identities of the players. They are also saying that they are in line with federal guidelines, yet again deferring responsibility to other groups. Many of them seek the limelight and enjoy the benefits of celebrity so it seems like a double standard. They do admit, however, that they are one of two Australian sports that do outside of competition testing, which seems to contradict the previous statements by AD.

    It is a sad day when spin becomes more important than the issue. It is likely to all end in tears for somebody.

    By Blogger Simon, at 8:04 pm, May 29, 2007  

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  • Simon, please show me where I have suggested the AFL players are perfect? As a wise man once said (or sang): No bodies perfect not even a perfect fool. And the AFL players are as imperfect as anyone but in the end (as I am sure I have heard Greg say on more then a few occasions) they are just normal people not gods, so why should they be held up to god like standards?

    Yes they make mistakes. Drugs is one and they have take this on board and are doing something about it.

    On AD, I still don't understand the thought that he is weak. He sticks up for his "employees", he stands up on issues he believes in, yet he listens to other opinion. What more do you want him to do?

    Surely the Weak/easy thing to do is give up on your/your companies principles to stay popular? Yet he isn't doing this. He and his organisation is doing what it feels is right and wearing any criticism that they face.

    This is probably the biggest problem I have with the knockers. Surely you would agree the easiest, most popular thing would be to give up on the 3 strike policy and introduce something else. You guys say the AFLPA is strong but do you really think they would strike over this? It would be an absolute PR nightmare. The fact is that although they don't always see eye to eye, they have a healthy working relationship for the better of the game and for the community.

    And when the weak government want to threaten the AFL, they allegedly threaten to take funds away from programs for the indigenous people. When are you guys going to have a go at that.

    Back to my point about the AFL players and why the high and might stance for them, I am sure money will be mentioned. "They earn big money, they need to be clean". Well what about CEO's, VP's and others on multi-million dollar contracts, why not attack them? And what about lawyers? They have a much more public drug problem and they actually swear not to do illegal things!

    This is a society problem and the AFL should be congratulated for not putting there head in the sand as other have.

    Molly

    By Anonymous Phillip Molly Malone, at 12:35 am, May 30, 2007  

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  • It seems obvious to me that the AFL's strategic interests lie in having the best (most popular) players possible turn up to play each week whilst minimising negative public criticism from politicians, fans and media commentators.

    Andrew Demetriou's drug policy - speak loudly but carry a tiny stick - meets this goal. I think he's beholden to the players' union, the sponsors and other key stakeholders to create the appearance of testing while ensuring that no player is actually sanctioned.

    From this (cynical) perspective, Ben Cousins represents a policy success (an exciting, match-winning Brownlow medalist wasn't detected despite a raging ice addiction) but a PR failure (he was piffed anyway because the illusion became impossible to maintain).

    There are two distinct public problems with footy and drugs right now: many players are using drugs (not a big deal for the AFL, clubs or individuals) and most are getting away with it (=unhappy public). Hence, the AFL's traditional solution - having half-arsed testing protocols - is now shown up as weak. (Hell, they're being openly mocked by other sporting officials!)

    The arguments about "why test AFL players but not others?" has been covered here before. Briefly:

    * There's an OH&S issue given their training and playing that doesn't apply to other professions.

    * There's theft/fraud issues around being paid to provide drug-free performances but then breaking the contract with fans.

    * Part of their large incomes come from being role models for kids in ways that lawyers and CEOs aren't.

    It's not a double standard. Surgeons, miners, pilots and teachers all face different rules (for a range of matters) than the general society. For example, a dishonesty offence might see a lawyer disbarred while the same offence might have no impact on a welder.

    You may call these different standards hypocrisy. I think this "graded" approach allows us to make sensible and pragmatic trade-offs around personal liberty and responsibility.

    Clearly, we can't treat everyone like they're on parole. Similarly, we can't have surgeons turning up to work pissed. These kinds of codes are a common solution to this dilemma: it's called being a professional.

    As for asking why I don't comment on lawyers' drug issues - this isn't the "drugs are bad, m'kay" blog, this is the "footballers are bad, m'kay" blog.

    By Blogger Greg, at 1:33 am, May 30, 2007  

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  • Hey Greg,
    Got an article for you. Seems WADA thinks the AFL is doing a good job with their Actions and about the only thing that they could find fault with it is the name:
    Policy confuses WADA chief
    Molly

    By Anonymous Phillip Molly Malone, at 5:10 pm, June 02, 2007  

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  • Firstly, out of competitilon testing does not mean players are tested in the off season, "whilst on holidays". Players are not tested in the Off season, they can be tested however during the week during the season proper.

    In many industries in this country workers are regularly drug tested and are sacked if they return a positive result. No three strikes for Jo Average.

    AFL players make huge money because they are marketable commodities, without sponsors they would earn an average wage. Australian advertisers are extremely sensitive about what and who they link their products with. If players don't don't want the scrutiny then don't become an AFL player.

    The government has a right to request to more accountability on the matter from the AFL. Despite the perception that the AFL is big business the clubs rely on tax payer funding. The wages bill for players has blown out to such an extent that the clubs can not afford to upgrade their own facilities. The Bulldogs for example have used our hard earned tax dollars to build their new facilities at the Western Oval. Richmond is doing the same at Punt Road, St Kilda the same in Frankston. The Australian public have a right to expect accountability on the drugs issue due to the amount of funding provided.
    The idea of the AFL as big business is hilarious. Demetriou worked for the AFLPA before getting the gig with the AFL. He has overseen an increase in player wages that would not be accepted in any other industry. Can you imagine BHP appointing a delegate from the CFMEU as their CEO and then allowing him to increase workers wages by 100% over 8 years? In fact wages have increased so far that clubs are struggling to make ends meet, what other corporation would treat their franchises in this way? In what other big business does the corporation fund the union? The AFL bears no resemblance to a modern corporation. It is a sporting body run by ex players for the benefit of players.
    The fact that some people feel the need to defend the players, clubs and administration is hilarious.

    By Anonymous fossman, at 10:16 am, June 24, 2008  

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