21 Jan 2009, Comments (11)

Shout-out to Cheryl Barassi: Here’s a suggestion.

Author: Helen

Cheryl, I see you published an article in the paper a while back about the shocking attack on your husband by some nasty thugs, who’d been assaulting a woman at the time. This you see as the result of a decline in character of young people, their refusal to take responsibility for their actions and learn respect for others. Your suggested solution is boot camp and national service – “and that’s just for the parents.”

Nowhere in your article did I see any mention of one of the most problematic breeding grounds for violent and sexist behaviour: football. The milieu and culture in which your husband is an elder statesman.

I’m not suggesting for a moment here that Ron is part of the problem. What I do suggest is that he uses his remaining years to do the valuable and necessary work of changing the warped culture that has grown up around footballers and the kind of young men who would aspire to be like them. These people are the poster children for the very things you complain are destroying our culture.

A pack mentality, greed, consumer madness, lack of a social conscience and drugs — especially ice — were to blame for an increase in violence, she told The Age.

Hmm. Pack mentality? Check. Greed? Check. Consumer madness and lack of a social conscience? Check. Drugs? Check. Ice? Check. But why stop there? I can think of more – the culture of misogyny, rape and sexual assault, binge drinking, getting your old fella out in public, and general bad behaviour typifying the young, blokey and entitled. Oh, and Sam Newman.

As for the subject of parents: well

It seems the AFL and other football codes have made some efforts to address this culture over the last few years, but it looks as if it’s an uphill battle against the enormous pressure for young blokes to interpret manliness as drunkenness, loutishness and treating women like toilets. Some people excuse this with some misty-eyed notion of a “tradition” of “larrikinism”, which was hard enough to live with in the streets of colonial Victoria but has simply morphed into a gangland version of the Lifestyles of the rich, famous and thick. And little Jamie and Brayden from Footymad Primary are picking up on it. Plenty of parents don’t want their kids playing Aussie Rules football for that very reason. Think about it.

It’s time Ron threw his considerable weight behind all AFL campaigns which are trying to address the problems you complain about – drugs, violence, attitude towards women. He has standing in the football world and he should use it.

Comments (11)

  • Shaun says:

    I may not recognise the southern sect as a sport (even if Sydney does have a temple) but well said Helen.

    The NRL has had its own issues over the years that have been well documented. The positive is that the NRL has enacted plans to combat negative attitudes towards women as well as binge drinking/drugs. There is still a lot to be done. The Greg Bird case for instance (an NRL player who will go to caught for an alleged assault on his partner in April is the short story). Yet, in relation to Bird, what was heartening was the majority of comments on forums and the papers that flat out condemned violence against women when the story broke. So some progress is being made.

    The footy codes need more of the old legends to get behind these campaigns. Their standing in the game does have a positive effect.

  • M-H says:

    ‘ear ‘ear. Well said Helen. But I doubt Ms Barassi would agree. Sport saves young people, see. Gives them a place to put all that aggro, init? I’m just really glad none of mine were that interested in any code of football once they’d left primary school.

  • Helen says:

    Thanks all!
    Shaun, actually Barassi is involved with NRL administration as well (or has been – I don’t keep up with these things), so he could make it ecumenical.

  • Shaun says:

    The word ecumenical always brings Father Jack Hackett to mind.

    But here is plenty of merit in the idea. Campaigns across all codes would reach a lot of people and could be a powerful message.

  • Laura says:

    stands up, applauds

  • Tim says:

    I hope you send this to the Age for publication. If they are serious about wanting high quality commentary then they would publish it in a flash.

  • Ann oDyne says:

    Excellent once again Balcony Blogger.
    ditto wot evahbodee above said.

    Mamas don’t let your babies grow up to be ruckmen.
    Don’t let ’em play football and hang out with sluts,
    make em be aid workers living in huts.

    (apologies to Merle Haggard)

  • Kath Lockett says:

    I’m with Tim – send this to The Age and they’ll find half a million (or is that ‘Mill-yun’) readers agreeing wholeheartedly.

    After all, even in games such behaviour is celebrated as being ‘nuggety’, ‘brave’ or displaying the exemplary virtues of (sigh) ‘being a real team player’ according to the witless commentators who insist on describing every movement as though we can’t see any of it.

  • Placebogirl says:

    THANK YOU for this post. It articulates better than I could so many things I think about the “footy lad” culture.

  • Helen says:

    Sorry to take so long to approve your comment, Placebogirl – saw the email
    this morning but brain not switched on yet!
    Hoo-boy, was there ever a lot of spam today. All for the LadyGaGa post. Not sure why.
    And Kath, welcome to Melbourne!

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