April 02, 2004 | Peter

Life Outside Football

I’d just returned from dinner with a friend from when I worked in a university. We had enjoyed a wide-ranging conversation over some tasty Indonesian food – words like ontology and epistemology were used freely. So I decided to veg out a little and let my brain slow down before retiring.
What better way than watch a bit of the Footy Show? However, just my luck they were having an extended discussion about the limits of behaviour in footy. First it was sledging, including the fairness of a Bulldogs player’s comment to an Essendon player who has just recovered from cancer. Well, apparently this player had subsequently apologised etc, but they all do, don’t they? The real question is: what kind of a person thinks it is acceptable to comment derisively on a life threatening condition just to get a ‘psychological advantage’ on the field? I recommend therapy.
Sam ‘the Cro-Magnon’ Newman naturally took the yobbo position, but Eddie McGuire and the now decidedly Snaggish Dermot Brereton demurred.
I’ve had a go at Eddie in a couple of my OLO essays, but it’s his ubiquity I really dislike, plus the garbage he appears in. He is actually a reasonably smart man, and he knows that there is a little more to life than footy. Witness his promotion of women in the Collingwood hierarchy.
But then on came the new Melbourne president who was roundly rubbished as he missed the first game of the season because he was somewhere else helping out Oxfam. Both Eddie and Sam got into him. In response he said directly that there is indeed life outside footy, and perhaps starving kids should rate higher than a game of footy.
Footy generally is in crisis. Both rugby and AFL can really get hurt if they don’t clean up their act. The image of the thuggish, insensitive brute who’ll do anything to win is no longer very attractive.
And so why continue to tolerate moronic behaviour from people off field like Sam Newman? He was once a terrific, and as I recall pretty fair, player. And he is clearly no fool with at times a quick wit. But he has adopted this persona of the buffoon, which – going by the press reports – obviously spills over into his own private life. Despite being a great player, good looking and making a mint for doing not much, he is a very angry man and it comes out in his insensitivity.
Most men grow up a little as they pass through their 30s. Issues like rape, assault, poverty, illness, etc are a little too serious to allow stupid comments to stand unchallenged. Footy is just a game, a totally contrived set of limited experiences, and a tiny fragment of real life. If the boys on footy shows want to talk about real life, they really should be prepared to think a little harder.

Posted by Peter at 11:20 am | Comments Off on Life Outside Football |
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