Sporting bravado feeding violence

I'M SURE the irony wasn't lost on The Examiner's editor Martin Gilmour.

The same Saturday the former football umpire used his editorial column to bemoan the death of hard, physical contests in the AFL, fields across Tasmania were rampant with biffo.

It certainly was a "weekend to forget" for football authorities, with a Northern senior match and two Southern junior contests called off, while another Northern junior player was hospitalised because of on- field violence.

The talk of the town was the NTFA division 2 grand final rematch between Old Scotch and Fingal Valley, during which a free kick evolved into an ugly all-in brawl that spilled into the coaches' box, into the crowd, and brought play to a halt before half-time.

Spare a thought for the lone police officer who arrived at the scene to calm things down.

The dust from Saturday's melee might have settled, but an investigation into the game at the NTCA is ongoing, and this week we should learn the fate of both clubs involved.

Allegations have flown from both sides - with suggestions the incident was premeditated - but I'll wager there is no completely innocent party here.

Football authorities and the media have rightly condemned the incident, but there is no doubt that in Australia a great romanticism surrounds violence in sport, even at a grassroots level.

Be it AFL, rugby league, or boxing, we demand hard hits, we condemn sportsmen for "going soft", we rise from our seats when men square up, and we cheer when that machismo overflows and the punches fly.

The thing is, there's nothing uglier than a grown man losing his temper, putting his game aside, and engaging in a personal battle for glory.

It's really stupid, and the fallout is almost always worse than if no fists had been thrown.

And if there are kids watching, it sets a pretty dangerous precedent.

While there's nothing wrong with playing rough sports and celebrating a hard, physical contest, you'd like to hope that our society values effort and fairness over aggression and cynicism.Especially when it comes to a Saturday afternoon footy match.

Alex Druce

Alex Druce


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