AFL: Crackdown on troubling issues needs to step up a gear

Sportsbet logo (sourced from Google Images)
Sportsbet logo (sourced from Google Images)

It does not matter whether it is to do with racism, betting, or ensuring player welfare.  The AFL has been standing in shadows for too long, poking at straws in an effort to either eradicate or limit the impact of these issues.

Today’s game is absolutely saturated with live in game odds, posters plastered on shop fronts (and on social media) and almost anywhere you can think of.  Prime Minister Julia Gillard yesterday announced that the advertisement of betting odds would be prohibited doing the broadcast of live sports matches – a big step in the right direction.

However, while this will eliminate all the advertisement, there’s still a two front problem; those that gamble on sporting matches – sometimes with obscene amounts – and that advertisements will still play at times when sporting events are not on.

Sure, it cannot be completely pushed out of sport, given that a lot of revenue for clubs comes from pokie machines and/or wagering, but taking out advertising during live sport is a logical step.  At every conceivable break of play, or promotion from commentators, the audience see and hear ads for betting agencies so often it gets tiring.  It may also help to quell a temptation for punters to bet at the footy, but I believe this will not be the case.  Those who want to put some money on the game know where to go now.

On the subject of player welfare, the constant adaptation of the rules, and the subsequent interpretation of these rules, is setting a dangerous precedent for players in contests, ACL‘s or knee injuries aside.  Players are ducking in tackles at an alarming rate, and there is also the push in the back and the new sliding rule.  Now, no one wants an injury or to be injured just as much as anyone else.  However, if the calls on these plays, especially the new sliding rule, cannot remain consistent, then I fear there could be an escalation of the number of injuries we are already seeing.  If players go low for the ball, contest or not, it is cause for some horrific accidents.  Keep the rules concrete to the point where umpires will call fairly across the whole game, and the chance of players sustaining an injury is reduced.

Lastly, racism.  There is no place for it in sport, or the world.  After the incident between Adam Goodes and the teenage girl at the Collingwood and Sydney game at the MCG in Round 9 highlighted that education is the key to bringing a level of understanding to everyone as to why this issue must be brought to a halt.  The words of fans can stay with the players for the rest of their life.  Now the fix is not to single out each person as they do it, but use each incident as a platform to build lessons on and impart the knowledge of just how much damage the words can do.

As a matter of fact, player welfare, racism, and betting control (to a lesser extent) apply to sport as a whole.  I would love to see a whole list of changes brought about that would make sport something fun to watch, rather than having it littered with indiscretions and behaviour that, for the most part, is not tolerated.

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