The integrity of sport must be upheld, no matter the circumstances.
News about Collingwood forward Jaidyn Stephenson's betting transgressions and subsequent penalty should be treated like any other form of corruption - with a heavy hand.
And the AFL has not mucked around in issuing Stephenson with a 22-match ban (10 suspended) and a $20,000 fine after unsuccessfully placing three minor bets on the Magpies in matches he was playing in.
He is not the first and won't be the last.
Yes, Stephenson is a young footballer and owned up to his actions but he knew well and truly he was breaking the AFL's clear-cut gambling rules. However, School of Public Health and Preventative Medicine's Gambling and Social Determinants Unit and Senior Lecturer head Dr Charles Livingstone is right in labelling the AFL hypocrites.
He pointed out that multiple clubs and the AFL make money out of sponsorship from gambling companies, or by operating, gambling venues and widely advertise so.
The AFL and other sporting organisations can't have their cake and eat it too.
They encourage gambling and then are surprised when one of their players is sucked into the vacuum. Gambling is a major issue in Australian society, particularly young men and more needs to be done to put a halt on the damage it can cause.
Because according to the Australian Institute of Family Studies' Weighing up the Odds 2019 study which looked into the motivations, attitudes and behaviours of young men aged 18-35 who watch or play sports:
- one-quarter of bettors reported being under 18 when they first placed a bet on sports;
- half of the participants bet at least weekly on sports;
- betting agency promotions were found to drive gambling uptake, with young men viewing those promotions as an appealing, low-risk or no-loss betting option;
- And, of all young men who bet on sport, 70% were found to be at risk of, or already experiencing, gambling harm.
Maybe it starts with major sporting codes taking the high moral ground?