Yes, I know, I’m my own worst enemy. I spend three days in southern Tasmania walking around cool temperate rainforest, eating and drinking myself stupid and paddling a kayak past mighty mountains and through rocky gorges, and by the end of that time I felt pretty fabulous. And then I had to spoil it all by doing something stupid like opening a newspaper.
If you don’t live in southern Australia, you need to know that the mind-numbingly long Australian Rules Football season is just getting under way.
Aussie Rules isn’t just a game- it’s an elite and insular world, which gives disproportionate rewards to meatheaded young men with a narrow range of physical skills and, often, an attitude to women or other ethnic groups which hasn’t changed since third grade. These child-men are paid staggering amounts, treated like gods and generally allowed to piss on society in general with their unreconstructed thuggery, while teachers and scientists get the crumbs from our table.
Usually I try my best to ignore these glorified house pets, but unfortunately their caperings outside the football stadium are classified as news in this town. So, schoolchildren all over Victoria were edified by this news item:
West Coast footballer Adam Selwood faces an extraordinary tribunal hearing on Wednesday night after being accused of making sexually explicit taunts about the six-year-old daughter of Fremantle player Des Headland….
It is believed that even [Selwood’s] own version of what he said to provoke Headland concedes he made an unpleasant reference to a tattoo on Headland’s arm. The tattoo is of Headland’s daughter Madisan.
It is alleged by Headland that during the third quarter Selwood, pointing to the tattoo of Madisan on Headland’s left bicep, said “I f—ed her last night” to which Headland is understood to have replied, “What do you mean, she’s my daughter?”
The West Coast player is then alleged by Headland to have added: “Yeah, she’s a slut. I f—ed her.”
Let’s not get distracted by the issue of people not being able to spell their own childrens’ names. While some of the cooler heads in the footy world came out in condemnation, others stayed right on message with the predictable “suck-it-up-we’re-tough-guys” rhetoric. Did I say predictable? It went to a new low, even by my expectations – and I’m a total cynic when it comes to the AFL culture.
Former St Kilda player and coach Grant Thomas said he had never heard anything like this. But he said Headland acted against the interests of his team by reacting violently …
Thomas said he would have ignored the comments. “In the field of battle you heard most things, but none of it was ever true. I have eight children and I would laugh about it.”
What a great guy. I’d like to be a fly on the wall back at his house after that got printed.
Sydney ruckman Peter Everitt, who settled a racial vilification complaint from Essendon’s Michael Long by mediation in 1997, said …”You can go a little bit too far but like if he said it to me, I’ve got 13, seven and five-year-old daughters and it wouldn’t have worried me at all — I would have laughed it off. But other people take it to heart…”
Buncha sheilas, obviously. Footy culture is even sicker than I’d realised. Racial taunts and making fun of someone’s cancer are other examples; drugs, neverending stoush, drunken boorishness and everything else that goes with a massively inflated sense of entitlement. It’s why I never bother with them. But this, as TonyT says, takes the baked confection.
But get this, Selwood claimed that it was an OK thing to have said because he didn’t know the tattoo was a picture of a child. Yeah, I paid that one, for about a second. But, WTF?
OK, they’ve admitted that claiming you’ve pronged someone’s six-year-old daughter is perhaps a wee bit too far (although some people obviously don’t even get that). But comments that are simply misogynistic and contemptuous of women are perfectly OK in AFL-world. Still.