21 Apr 2007, Comments Off on Aaaaaaaarsehooooooole!


Author: Helen

Image from http://www.realfooty.com.au/

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.

With the exception of Paul Roos, naturally. (Oh, and Greg Baum, but he’s a writer.)

Comments (0)

  • Helen says:

    Thanks Tim.

    I’m hanging out to read your take, or Pav’s, or Laura’s… on the “Cho (Virginia gunman) was an English Major” thing.

  • Sorry about this link, but for once Jimbo has got it right. Doesn’t it just shit you?

  • Helen says:

    Indeed he has. Credit where due.

    Many footballers lead lives that are so cloistered, so protected and so over-paid that they have no sense of responsibility beyond the maintenance of their own egos. They are part of a man-child generation of athletes who give full vent to their hormonal impulses, knowing all the time that a vast support system of club officials and fawning media commentators exists to defend any transgression.

    The purpose of this well-oiled excuse-making machine is to divert all attention from the concept of the Responsible Adult. And the defence is always the same: the player was too young/naive/out of his depth/stressed/confused/misunderstood/disoriented, etc to know better. The prevailing philosophy is that anything in life is excusable, so long as you can kick a football.

    What has happened with this breed of player is that their superego – the part of the mind that “exerts conscience and responds to social rules” (Oxford) – has been disabled. Thus, like cutting the brake cable on a car, they are only aware of the consequences when they hit something.

    Interesting we both use the term “man-child” or “child-man”. I hadn’t seen Schembri’s article when I wrote the post.

  • TimT says:

    Agreed. I was also struck by the fact that manly man Selwood, who doesn’t mind taunting other blokes to take a swing at him, is apparently ‘deeply hurt’ by claims that he would ever say anything nasty.

  • GoAwayPlease says:

    It’s the MONEY.
    The incredible pressure to win so that sponsors are associated with Winning.
    It isn’t SPORT, it’s BUSINESS.
    I am sad for intelligent fathers who would rather not take their boys to admire the game played.

  • I’m shocked and stunned Tim.

    West Coast is considering legal action against Selwood’s accusers.

    Next: it was all Headland’s fault, for having a tattoo in the first place.

  • kate says:

    ah, but which team’s man-child will win?

    maybe one day sportsmen will be required to act like adults once again. they could take notes from most of Australia’s sportswomen in that regard. they manage to hold down jobs, pay bills, keep their opinions on other people’s partners/children to themselves and still be the best in the world.

    the obvious exception is athletics, where Australian women have been known to be incredibly childish, and they generally aren’t anywhere near the best in the world.

  • […] Jeremy Sear and ‘The Editor’ of the mysteriously titled GrodsCorp have joined forces to defend Wikipedia against sensationalist criticsms in the free newspaper MX. But this is evidently not the only excitement non-Melbournians have been missing out on: Helen on the Balcony is appalled not just by Adaam Selwood, but by anyone who makes excues for him and indeed by the whole culture of Aussie Rules, 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. […]

  • Bernice says:

    Aint just AFL. Rugby league seems to be forever trying to cover, apologise, excuse some act of sheer bastardry by one of its steroid stuffed boneheads. & its not just the players either – did anyone watch the “anzac test’ match from Lang Park last Friday? Well i did on your behalf – the crowd behaviour was appalling – I kept waiting for the chant of “Kill Kill Kill” to go up. Rather creepy.

  • Helen says:

    Bernice: Watching the rugby so I don’t have to.

    I have relatives from (1) NZ and (2) Eastern subs, so I have had the occasional look at Teh Rugby. Kind of like sumo wrestling with a ball.

  • Aussie King Pin says:

    Coming from a sporting background, the first and only thing you are taught about dealing with sleging is that you DON’T retaliate. The fact is that Headland should have understood that Selwood was not anywhere near his 6 year old daughter the night before and theirfore could not have done anything to her. Does this excuse Selwood? Of course not. But I think in defencing Headland you are showing that you spend much time in the “culture” of sport. Which is fine, but please think about the fact that phyiscal violence is never a solution.

  • Helen says:

    AKP, please show me where I defend Headland. I have completely ignored Headland, except to make a rather cheap shot at his spelling skills. You are missing the point of this post.

  • As I asked over at Tonythetafeteach’s blog:

    What sort of idiot gets a HUGE ugly tatt of a generic looking woman on their upper arm and says it’s their daughter?

    And how many men in the whole world have a huge ugly tatt of their daughter on their arm? Or am I missing some trend.

    No one has given me an answer yet

  • Paul says:

    I am a 58 year old American and if this guy had said this about my daughter I would have done nothing during the game:however,after the game he would have had a knuckle sandwich courtesy of me !

  • Helen says:

    Doesn’t he have any other children? and won’t they all be jealous if he doesn’t put a tatt of them on his appendages?…Yep, it’s a nightmare.

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