If the AFL has taught us one thing in these past two weeks, it is the fact that they are seemingly wish to avoid any meaningful discussion about worrying issues in the league.
Andrew Demetriou – in panel discussions, newspaper articles, and press conferences – clearly did not think that tanking was something that existed, for one. Add this line of thinking to the Essendon drug saga, and you have formed a mountain out of a molehill.
Granted, both are concerning issues, but the way they have been handled rings alarm bells that something is wrong.
The dark clouds surrounding Essendon and the alleged drug use certainly does not leave a good image on the game. However, all evidence gathered so far – while thorough – still screams of uncertainty. It seems almost circumstantial, there has been lots of it, and worst of all, after approximately two weeks of mayhem regarding Essendon, we’re still no better off in trying to figure out the person at the centre of all this.
The AFL says that ‘if you cheat, we will catch you.’ Well, the question fans are asking is just where are the examples of those individuals that they have caught?
It’s the same sort of situation at Melbourne. There has been a monumental investigation into claims Melbourne deliberately lost, or in other words ‘tanked’ games in 2009 to gain priority draft picks. As a result the AFL has fined the Demons $500,000 as well as suspending two coaches from the club for a large amount of time.
Somewhere, sometime, there will be a desperate clean-up. However, the short-shortsightedness that has engulfed these scandals is a bad rap for the league. It hasn’t settled well with fans or the footy audience either. Calls for Hird to be sacked, Jobe Watson to be stripped of his brownlow; yet it seems that nothing of substance would have happened regarding this tanking scenario until Brock McLean commented on the issue on Fox Footy last year.
So I ask this question to the AFL: when are you going to pull your finger out and get to the bottom of – if not eradicating – at least radically reducing all the problems that go on in our great game?