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Wednesday, May 18, 2005

Drug-Taking Footy Players

Used-and-abused Carlton ruckman Laurence "Moses" Angwin (pictured below, presumably while straight) has blown the whistle on the biggest open secret in AFL: a hell of a lot of professional football players are into ecstasy.

After being sacked for showing up to training still trippin' (amongst other offences) it seems he's done a little spill-all at Kerry's The Bulletin. To what end, we may ask? I guess he misses the limelight. (Like many brats, he can't distinguish between "positive attention" and "negative attention".)

Why do people care about his revelations? Do they really think AFL players are saints? I'm not shocked that quite a few AFL players are into drugs - many young people are. Nor can we be shocked that they prefer stimulants: price is no object, they enjoy the company of drug dealers and they won't suffer from the munchies (and stuff themselves with 7-Eleven donuts at 3am). And let's not forget: in many cases their bosses are forcing stimulants down their throats at work! (Yes, all those No-Doze and caffeine tablets the coaches are shovelling in must really send a responsible message.)

The main question for me is why their employers - and fans - are not interested that a large number of players abuse drugs fortnightly.

"No one at Carlton asked us if other players were involved because, I guess, they didn't want to hear the answer," Angwin said.


"And it wasn't just Carlton where this was happening, it was just commonplace, especially amongst the younger blokes" ...

Carlton president Ian Collins said last night the club had no intention of investigating Angwin's claims about other Blues players, pointing out that the disgraced ruckman had a history of lying.


"It's 12 months old and as far as I'm concerned, we don't believe it's an issue, that's history. But if anything like that happened in the future, we'd take the same sort of action," he said.
(The Age, 18/5)

Taking ecstasy and dancing 'til dawn leaves you exhausted and dehydrated, with your sleep pattern out of whack for a few days and your mood chemicals (dopamine and seratonin) depleted for a week or more. Doing it weekly or fortnightly is physically and psychologically debilitating. It's impossible to imagine an athlete giving 100% under such circumstances.

The cheapest AFL players get at least $80,000, with the good ones on contracts of up to a million bucks a year. To play, what, 20 or 30 hours of footy a season? It beggars belief that the clubs are so uninterested in protecting their investment that they'd ensure the kids keep off the pills.

Even more disturbing - the ecstasy/rave scene is famous for its motto/cliche/philosophy of "PLUR" (Peace, Love, Unity, Respect). How the hell do footy players operate in that environment? It seems totally anathema to their values. I would have thought over-bearing, aggressive and arrogant footballers would go for the ego-inflating effects of cocaine instead.

Any experiences with footballers and their drug of choice? Please share them (please, no names!) by clicking the comment link below.

NB: Laurence Angwin is nicknamed "Moses" ... because he's the man with the tablets, of course!

Citations: The Age, 18/5

Word Count: 539

Tags: footy, drugs

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Friday, May 06, 2005

AFL Players and Gangstas

The West Coast Eagles are getting a bit of grief at the moment about a nightclub assault (stabbing and shooting no less!). No, it wasn't the footy players this time. Instead, it looks like it may have been rival gangs, including the Coffin Cheaters motorcycle club and the Scorpion Boys - apparently a group of Middle Eastern men muscling in on the drug scene, according to a white supremacist online forum. (NB: This is possibly the dodgiest source I've ever provided!)

What's that got to do with AFL footballers? Well, it seems that two Weagles Ben Cousins and Michael Gardiner (pictured below) were taking phone calls from a number of patrons inside the club at the time, including some suspected of disposing of the weapon. God knows what it was about. Media management? Legal advice? A good spot to stash the gun? Or maybe, under the new Pope, AFL players can now grant absolution?

The police are very interested to know about the contents of the calls, but the players are keeping schtum. I guess that's the Underworld code and even footy players know that crossing that won't just get you three weeks on the bench.

WA Police Commissioner Karl O'Callaghan said it was disappointing the pair had refused to answer questions.

"We know that both Gardiner and Cousins had made phone calls to people in the nightclub that night. We want to find what those phone calls were about,'' Dr O'Callaghan said.

"It's their right to refuse to answer questions but I've got to say that as role models in the community it is disappointing to see they're not cooperating with police.

"It's not a good message to send to younger people.(The Age, 4/5/05)

Big deal. AFL players fraternise with gangsters. What's disturbing about this is the club reaction.

Coach John Worsfold read a prepared statement to a large media contingent, stating the club "fully supports the players in the matter that was in the press this morning".

He added the club "doesn't condone anyone associating with known criminals", but said it was a "life choice" and he would address the playing group prior to training.(Nine News, 4/5/05)

Right. The club doesn't condone its players associating with violent gangland figures. Apparently, these guys have already been warned about it prior to this. But, they've made a "lifestyle choice" and, well, their damn good kicks of the ball so ... they can stay on (including one in the captaincy).

You can see the dilemma here for the clubs. On the one hand, young, good looking, famous, cashed-up, unprincipled, testosterone-charged men with lots of time on their hands are drawn together (birds of a feather). Gangsters and footballers are a natural fit. The footy players bring a certain glamour (and chicks, no doubt), while gangsters bring drugs and street cred - any maybe protection?

On the other hand, the club can't be seen to be supporting that. It makes the essential heroic illusion of player "goodness " (talented==virtuous) harder to swallow. That jeopardises corporate sponsorship, family turn out and positive media coverage. Solution? Keep issuing press statements mouthing bland platitudes, but don't actually do anything.

If society recognised that AFL players are, by and large, dodgier than the general population, we'd have less grief when they fail to live up to the standards of role models. No one thinks that rock musicians are whiter than white - but we still send them truckloads of cash. The conflation of talent and virtue is broken and we have a realistic perspective on them. As a result, they're far less of a problem to society. Why can't we open our eyes about AFL players too?

Citations: The Age, 4/5/05; Nine News, 4/5/05

Word Count: 631

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