Thursday, July 17, 2008

Another thing about the footy...

I really don't watch that much footy (that's Aussie for football, in this case Aussie Rules Football). Honestly, I don't. I am forced to see a bit of it each week when the Handsome Australian sits perched on the edge of the couch biting his lip and shouting indecipherable phrases at the TV while his beloved Geelong battle their latest opponent. I usually pass through the room from time to time and check the score line to see what kind of mood I can expect the Handsome one to be in following the game. If the game is close, I may sit and watch a few minutes of it. It is actually a fun game to watch if you enjoy sports. It's very fast paced and there are a lot of players on the field at one time, so it can be difficult to keep up with. I do admit I like the momentum and I like the way the game can change very quickly.

The part of the footy that I'm NOT a fan of is the biffo and argy bargy that goes on during the game. (The what? Biffo = hits or fighting not related to play and argy bargy is, in this case, the trash talk between players). Apparently in the 1970s and 1980s this kind of rough play was standard. It seems like people really enjoyed watching this style of play and the rougher the players were with each other, the better. This is what I've gleaned, anyway, from the wealth of information I get from my forced viewing of each week's Footy Show (a prime time show that attempts to present the week's footy news, upcoming games, etc in an entertaining manner. I'd say their success at achieving these goals is mixed, but that doesn't keep the Handsome Australian, and hence the rest of us, from tuning in each week).

The AFL (that's Australian Football League) seems to have clamped down on this sort of behaviour in recent years and made an effort to get players to clean up their act a bit. For those of you who know little about Aussie Rules football, there is no "sin bin" where players who misbehave can be sent to during a game. If a player makes some sort of illegal play during a game, they may be penalised by having a free kick awarded to the opposing team. If a player gets involved in a bit of biffo or injures another player intentionally, there is no immediate action taken against that player. In the AFL, the players who misbehave during a game can be reported by the Umpires and have their infractions sent to the AFL Tribunal.

I find the Tribunal to be one of the many unique aspects of the AFL. Players who are reported during one of the weekend's games are forced to appear before the Tribunal (which is composed of a panel of lawyers and individuals with a knowledge of the rules of Aussie Rules) and plead their case. Video evidence from the game as well as statements from Umpires and other players may be used to make the case against the offending player. The offending player can provide character statements from coaches and fellow players and offer up his version of events as a defense. It sounds very formal, and in some ways it is, but it's not as formal as actual court proceedings would be. After the Tribunal hearing, a decision will be handed down by the panel and the player will find out what the consequences of his actions are. In some cases there will be monetary fines and in most cases, the player will be suspended for a period determined appropriate by the panel.

What got me thinking about all of this today is an event that happened during last week's Geelong game where one of the players, Cameron Ling, was struck in the jaw by a member of the opposing team, Dean Solomon, for no apparent reason. You can watch the vision of the incident here:

Completely unnecessary and uncalled for violence on the field. Doctor's think Ling's injury, a depressed cheek bone fracture requiring the insertion of a titanium plate and screws to hold the bone in place, will keep him off the footy field for about four weeks. This is a very crucial part of the season and may effect his team's ability to make the finals. So beyond the obvious physical ramifications for Ling, there are also the ramifications his injuries will have on his team. All of this because one guy lost his temper. Shame, shame, shame.

I'm happy to say the AFL Tribunal made me proud this week by handing down an EIGHT week suspension to Solomon that will see him out of the game for the rest of the season as well as the first game of next season. In my opinion he deserved at least that. It's the toughest penalty handed down by the Tribunal in the last 11 years--and fair enough too.

A sport with that much action, so much biffo and a justice system to sort it all out at the end of the day...yes, they do things differently Down Under.

Learn the Lingo
footy = football
biffo = hitting, fighting in footy
argy bargy = trash talk or a heated discussion
AFL = Australian Football League

1 comment:

Annelise said...

So when going to the Tribunal to they take a torch? If the tribunal chooses the torch can be snuffed out and they can be kicked off the Island... wait a minute...that is Survivor.

Aussie's love making fun words! I am all about that! Love me some Aussie vocab!