Andrew Mole

May 24, 2018

Editor Andrew Mole's piece on athlete behaviour.

MUCH is being written – and said – about controlling parental incursions onto the football arena at junior sport.

Thankfully, not only does it not appear to be an issue in the twin towns; it is not even on the radar of clubs or cops.

But it does raise an issue which has been bouncing around in the backblocks of my brain for a while.

All our little football enthusiasts and, I am pretty certain, many of their parents too, are avid watchers of countless hours of AFL on free and pay TV.

And there is one thing about our great game which seems to be unique to AFL.

The players always start belting each other before the game has started.

Not occasionally, but on every occasion.

I know, I have made a point of watching in the past few weeks.

They all did it and later this week will do it all over again.

Big, burly blokes chesting, shoving, going as far as they can short of being reported.

The commentators condone it, the umpires ignore it – and our children absorb it.

Granted with the amount of testosterone packed around the first bounce of an AFL game there are going to be some serious Alpha Male challenges.

But every game? Every week? Seriously?

The commentators, almost certainly guilty to a man of the same behaviour in their day, talk about stamping authority on the game.

Let’s think about that for just a minute.

We have 40 superbly trained, Commando fit, psychologically enhanced, athletes.

They would all score around the same marks for any kind of physical test you might like to suggest.

So in that light, is anyone being intimidated?

I think not.

But what lessons do our ankle biters take out of this overt display of aggression.

I have cast around the globe and yes, most team sports have been known to include fights and/or brawls.

Excluding ice hockey, where a game occasionally breaks out, can you think of any sport (pro or amateur) that before the starting whistle has players whacking into each other?

Because I can’t.

Rugby Union’s closest thing would be the haka.

Rugby League? Nope. NBL? Nope. Premier League soccer? I don’t think so. Major League Baseball? Not with what their bodies are worth. NFL? They save it for the game.

Granted there will be scuffles in every one of those sports but not the programmed premeditated and choreographed biffo we will get again this weekend in the AFL.

Which brings me back to where I started.

The big leagues send the messages.

The little kids absorb them, thrive on them and work hard to imitate them.

As do the wannabes.

And, sadly, from time to time, the parents.

But where are they getting the message that in football it is acceptable?

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