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Friday, September 29, 2006

Roundup: Gambling, Newman and Footy Chicks

As a prelude to tomorrow's Grand Final, I thought I'd do a quick round-up of a few outstanding matters. First, I heard back from Victorian Gaming Minister John Pandazopoulos about my proposal for betting on AFL player court appearances. There's also closure for Sam Newman's public indecency and a heads-up on an SBS documentary airing tonight (Friday, 29/9/06).

The Victorian gaming industry has a tireless champion in John "Panda" Pandazopoulos - no-one has done more to advance the interests of gaming shareholders than Mr Pokies. It's quite strange, therefore, that Panda wouldn't get behind my proposal to let people wager on the club that will next see a player appear in court. His stated reasons were:

The integrity of sporting competitions upon which wagers are made is vital for public confidence and is an issue which is taken very seriously by the Victorian Government. A betting competition such as the one suggested by you may be considered contrary to the public interest and may compromise the integrity of sports betting as the outcome is relatively easy to manipulate. (Ministerial Correspondence, 22/9/2006)

NB: My emphasis added. As I read this, Panda's saying that he regards it as too easy to manipulate the AFL players' appearances in court. This is profoundly disturbing for two reasons. Firstly, it suggests that lacks confidence in the integrity of people making decisions about whether or not players appear in court. As I understand it, this is the police sergeants who charge people (for most matters) and the government lawyers at the Department of Public Prosecutions (for very serious matters). What does he know about corruption in these organs of state that the rest of us don't?

Faced with an apparent lack of faith in the people deciding whether to charge AFL players, you'd think he might talk to his Cabinet colleagues about some sort of inquiry. Maybe even referring specific instances to the Office of Police Integrity. But no - and here's my second concern - he's instead worried about how this might impact on the "integrity of sports betting"! Get that? His reaction to the easy "manipulation" of the decision-making processes underpinning our law is to fret about the impact on gamblers. What about the rest of us? If police or prosecutors are easily manipulated in who they present to the courts, surely there are wider issues than a few betting agencies. Jeez, talk about a captured minister ...

Elderly footy commentator Sam Newman was slapped with a piece of wet paper by the toothless Australian Communications and Media Authority:
On May 6 on Triple M's Saturday Football program, the 60-year-old responded to criticism by asking an unidentified caller if they were at the game that day. "Yes I was," the caller said, to which Newman responded: "You're a f---wit."

[ACMA] found the program "did not meet contemporary standards of decency". Triple M suspended Newman from the program and has made the former Geelong star undergo retraining ... no further action will be taken. (The Age, 29/9/2006)

Just last year Triple M tried to rein in The Coot - apparently without success. What form does the retraining take, I wonder? Whatever they used last time obviously didn't take. Maybe the AFL has the right idea in lambasting the standards of footy commentary after all.

While the onset of Newman's "grumpy old man disorder" undermines respect for elders, it certainly helps promote early retirement. Not to mention legalised euthanasia.

Tonight sees the first free-to-air broadcasting of the controversial documentary Footy Chicks. With a limited theatrical release earlier in the year, this will be the first chance for many of us to see this harrowing account of what happens in the bars, toilets and hotel rooms after the match. From the seedy to the depressing, it's sure to be an eye-opener. Set your VCRs (or DVRs) to SBS, 10pm tonight (Friday 29th of September). My write-up to follow shortly.

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Monday, September 11, 2006

Cat In Drink-Driving Disgrace

More arrogant recklessness and poor judgement from an AFL player. This time, Geelong's Brad Ottens got picked up for driving drunk late on the Friday night (following "Mad Monday") in the leafy-green - or is that shady? - suburb of Doncaster. It's seems the capacity of footballers for getting behind the wheel while pissed knows no bounds.

The ABC kept to the facts:

Forward Brad Ottens faces disciplinary action from Geelong after failing a random breath test in Doncaster in the early hours of this morning (AEST).

Ottens was stopped by police and found to have a blood alcohol content of 0.116, more than twice the legal limit. (ABC News, 9/9/2006)

The Murdoch press was running something far more detail-packed and salubrious:
He could also lose his licence for 11 months and be fined $450.

Mr Cook said the incident was Ottens' "first strike" since joining the Cats two years ago.

He did not know Ottens had been suspended for a match over drunkenness while at the Tigers in 2000.

"I wasn't aware of that," he said.

"He's been among the more mature players at the club. We expect more of him."

Mr Cook, who was relieved no one was injured by Ottens' mistake, said the player's career was not under threat.

"He's still contracted with us. In my opinion, that's not in jeopardy," he said.

Mr Cook said Ottens had dinner and a few drinks at a hotel in Templestowe with his brother before being stopped for a random breath test on Manningham Rd.

He said Ottens had been taken to the Doncaster police station for further testing and a reading of 0.116 had been recorded.

Mr Cook said Ottens was extremely remorseful. (The Sunday Herald Sun, 10/9/2006)

The high reading - 0.116% BAC - indicates that Brad Ottens must have been noticeably pissed. Luckily for us, random breath testing pulled him over before he could do any actual damage. Luckily for Ottens, the delayed reading at the cop shop ensured he didn't blow 0.15, the point at which you can expect to answer a charge in court.

Will he end up at the AFL Division of the Magistrates Court? This, of course, is the $100,000 dollar question. Based on my discussions with court staff, it seems that someone in his situation would generally be issued an infringement notice that indicates they've lost their licence for a year without appearing before the beak. However, the police may take the case to court anyway (depending on seriousness), or the accused could elect to challenge the police's notice in court. This uncertainty is reflected in the betting market, which is all over the place at the moment, with prices on Geelong jumping markedly before falling back to $1.00 after what (bafflingly) appears to be short-selling of the stock. Meanwhile, interstate teams Brisbane Lions and Port Adelaide are going from strength to strength, seeing big price increments. What's happening over the border?

Let's hope that Brad Ottens learns his lesson about drink-driving and that the rest of the AFL clubs look at promoting the free priority taxi service a little more widely in future. Remember guys, you can't always rely on Chris Tarrant to chase up a lift for you.

Citations: ABC News, 9/9/2006; The Sunday Herald Sun, 10/9/2006

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Monday, September 04, 2006

Warning: Elevated Risks From "Mad Monday"

*** WARNING ***

Please be advised that Monday the 4th of September is "Mad Monday". This is an extremely dangerous time to be near footballers, so all Melburnians are advised to take necessary precautions.


"Mad Monday" is the first Monday after the conclusion of regular AFL matches (or the "home and away" season). This means that eight out of the 16 teams are out of the competition and so can finally indulge in all manner of pent up vices. Expect roughly 300 disappointed and angry footballers to be cutting loose on the town from this date, relieving a five month backlog of aggro and excess.


You can expect hundreds of large, frustrated and psychologically-damaged men to be roaming the streets in groups. Many will be aggressive and drunk. Owing to their reduced alcohol tolerance, you should expect several to be out of control, with some looking to get into fights. Others may well be drug-affected. If you're lucky, they'll just be on ecstasy or marijuana. The worst-case scenario is an encounter with footballers who have taken crystal meth and cocaine. Disturbingly, we've had reports of attempts by footballers to use so-called "date rape" drugs like rohypnol. Do not accept drinks from players, and do not leave your drink unattended.

We've had specific intelligence from former player (and commentator) Dermot Brereton about the nature of "Mad Monday" celebrations:
Brereton, who starred for Hawthorn in the 1980s and still has close contact with players through his commentator duties, said drug-taking was said to be preferred to alcohol in post-season celebrations.

"We heard rumours that somebody turned up to one of those mad Mondays and there wasn't a beer in sight ... (The Australian, 31/3/05, reported in The Speccy)

Please be advised that the salubrious nature of "Mad Monday" can corrupt even upstanding captains of industry, with some easily swept up in the surge of debauchery:

Eddie McGuire Led Astray During "Mad Monday" 2005
Source: After Grog Blog


We've elevated the AFL Footballer Threat Index to Condition Red (the highest threat level). You should avoid venues likely to attract footballers and leave if they appear:
  • Football club rooms

  • Any pub with football paraphernalia

  • Known drug-dealing precincts

  • Expensive restaurants (that lack a dress code)

  • Year 10 formals (private girls' schools only)

If you see a footballer, secure your own safety and immediately visit the AFL Misbehaviour Market to place your bets on whether or not that player will be appearing next in court. If the player is passed out in the gutter and about to swallow his tongue or drown in his own vomit, do not approach him. Instead, you should consider short-selling his stock.

Lastly, if you have not already done so, you should visit The Speccy Shop, where (subject to your local laws), you can pick up some products that could save your life, including our popular line of stun guns, pepper spray, drink spike detectors and first aid kits. These products - and many others in our extensive catalogue - have been carefully selected to offer you maximum protection against footballer attack. (Or recovery from an attack, in the case of the DNA kits and STD Self-Diagnosis Handbook.)

Please, people, play it safe. If you know of any places where footballers congregate - especially pub, clubs and bars - please provide a tip-off in the comments below to help out your fellow citizens.

Acting together, we can get through this dangerous ordeal without further injuries.

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