Football violence won't be covered up

ROB SHAW says: MANY within the Tasmanian football community appear intent on taking the same approach to violence in the game as the Australian government adopted on asylum seekers.

The Examiner's sports editor Rob Shaw

The Examiner's sports editor Rob Shaw

If you don't inform the public, you can pretend it's not happening.

In the past fortnight, The Examiner has had several complaint calls from people in administrative positions within footy questioning why we feel the need to report incidents like the NTFA division 2 brawl and various other abandonments and assaults.

NEFU president Leon Quilliam summed up the general theme last week when commenting on the outcome of the tribunal into the East Coast Swans player who left a Bridport opponent with multiple facial fractures.

"Hopefully some good will come out of it and hopefully the media will print some positive stuff, instead of being all negative," he said.

It appears reporting an unsavoury incident may be a bigger sin than committing one.

Maybe we'd stop reporting on all this "negative" stuff if footballers stopped breaking each other's cheekbones and staging mass fights.

One phone call from St Helens even suggested the Bridport player's injuries didn't seem too bad in our photograph.

Two fractured cheekbones, a broken eye socket, broken jawbone, fractured sinus bone and dental damage sounds more black and white than it may have appeared black and blue.

Another caller said The Examiner is only interested in such "negatives" and therefore partly responsible for them happening.

Ironically, about three millimetres away from Quilliam's comment was the back page picture of former Launceston player Kade Kolodjashnij tackling Brownlow medallist Adam Cooney en route to collecting the AFL's Rising Star nomination for Round 10.

Inside the same edition was an interview with North Launceston's Allan O'Sign about his best-on- ground State League performance against Lauderdale and analysis of Jack Riewoldt's career-best 11-goal AFL haul for Richmond.

This was in addition to the weekly player profiles, match previews and reports Phil Edwards writes on both the State League and NTFA, Alex Fair's comprehensive monitoring of Tasmanians in the AFL and Terry Morris's extensive reporting of the NTFL.

Clearly, we do print the "positive stuff", but this appears to be taken for granted.

And it does not mean we will turn a blind eye to football's repeated acts of violence.

Especially when even the NTFA themselves referred to the Fingal-Old Scotch brawl as "the talk of the town".

When we asked one local league why it did not routinely inform the media about tribunal outcomes, we were told it was because they didn't want the length of some penalties publicised.

Two weeks ago, I wrote a column about the spate of issues in matches ranging from under-9s, colts, reserves and Mother's Day specials, asking whether any level of the game was exempt from violence.

The answer came this week with the report of a Launceston player being assaulted in a women's match.

It appears not.

The best way to stop the media reporting violence in local football is not by trying to keep it quiet. It's by trying to stamp it out.


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