At a time when Tasmanian football and cricket are facing some fairly fundamental issues, both appear preoccupied with marketing-driven name changes.
Amid much fanfare, the Tasmanian Roar women’s cricket team will henceforth be known as the Tasmanian Tigers in order to confuse it with the men’s team while AFL Tasmania has announced that the revived Tasmanian VFL team will be called the Tasmania Devils – ironically the same name of the team killed off by AFL Tasmania a decade ago.
Both state bodies have more pressing matters facing them.
The controversial case involving sacked employee Angela Williamson may have reached “a mutually satisfactory resolution” a couple of weeks ago, but the bosses at Bellerive Oval are still dealing with the fallout of why their most popular current Google search is “Cricket Tasmania abortion”.
AFL Tasmania is also calling on one of the state’s most elusive animals to provide a welcome distraction from less controllable matters.
A press release issued on Friday began with the line: “Tasmania you asked for it … the Devils are back.”
Actually Tasmania did not ask for it. It did not ask for the Devils to go 10 years ago and the only thing it does appear to be asking for is a team in the national competition rather than the regional Victorian one.
Unperturbed, the press release went on to explain how every Tasmanian football team from under-12 boys and girls, to TAC Cup and senior men and women will now be known as the Tasmanian Devils following a public vote which the public never asked for.
Apparently, CEO Trisha Squires was excited to share the new brand.
“I think the announcement of the return of the Tassie Devils name will bring joy to a lot of Tasmanian football fans,” she reckoned.
Perhaps not as much joy as a Tasmanian AFL team.
It didn’t stop there because, wait for it, the announcement of the name was accompanied by a new Tasmania Devils logo.
Spoiler alert: it’s got a Tassie devil on it.
“The new logo strongly represents Tasmania with a roaring devil front and centre on the instantly recognisable map that forms a shield, all pictured in Tasmania's traditional bottle green, yellow and maroon.”
Uncannily, so did the logo of the last incarnation of the Tassie Devils.
Where on Earth do these marketing gurus get their ideas?
”The logo represents the tenacity of the devil and Tasmanian footballers,” the release gushed.
Come on people. Is a new (or rather old) name and a rehashed logo really the most important issue facing Tasmanian football?
How about an ever-decreasing State League that no longer includes an entire region, dwindling AFL attendances, declining participation and widespread disillusionment at the state’s continued neglect and condescending treatment by the AFL.
The press-stopping Devils announcement also came out just two days after the latest example of another massive issue facing Tasmanian football.
The State League’s independent tribunal isn’t exactly big on book throwing.
Two cases came before it last Wednesday that warranted the firmest of hands.
North Launceston’s Beau Sharman and Glenorchy’s serial offender Zac Webster had committed two equally appalling hits that left their victims sprawled flat out on the turf.
Apologies, I’m using spin myself. They weren’t “hits”, they were punches.
Assessing Webster for the third time in a fortnight, the tribunal was shown footage of a cowardly right hook to Lauderdale’s Jacob Gillbee, the hearing of which had been tactfully delayed until after the grand final.
Webster successfully argued that the contact was of low impact and the tribunal imposed a one-match sanction.
Ultimately, this was raised to two due to Webster's poor record, reduced back down to one due to his guilty plea then added to a two-match suspension from another incident (also on Gillbee) in the same match.
What parents would want their offspring playing in a competition that considers that incident worthy of just a one-match ban?
Probably the same parents that allow their offspring to play in a competition that considered Sharman’s similar punch in the grand final worthy of just a one-match ban.
Sharman argued that he struck Launderdale’s Bryce Walsh in the chest.
However, the officiating umpire “who had a clear and unobstructed view of the incident” stated that Walsh left the field holding his face. Not his chest.
In the footage, Walsh is clearly holding his face. Not his chest.
Walsh said the contact had chipped one of his teeth and caused his mouthguard to cut his lip.
Funny thing to happen if he was hit in the chest.
The tribunal concluded the incident was low impact.
The base sanction of two weeks was reduced to one by Sharman’s guilty plea but then doubled back to two because it was a grand final.
Throughout the season, State League players have routinely challenged even the most clear-cut of incidents because the tribunal has such a track record of either upholding their appeal or watering down the punishment to a mild wrist slap.
Andrew Gaff and Barry Hall must wish their cases had been heard by the Tasmanian State League’s independent tribunal.
Still, who really wants to hear about all that when there’s a logo to unveil?
Well except Bryce Walsh’s dentist obviously.