As reported by SportsNewsLive Jason Blake has publicly pledged to the community that he won’t allow the AFL scandal tear the Saints apart.
The fans seem to find it refreshing to know that everyone at the club are all acting in a warm and fuzzy manner now and the players all supportive of one another in a spirit of camaraderie.
Blake spoke of “the St Kilda’s ‘bubble’ a recurring theme, raised as one of the forces behind the club’s victories in two grand finals. Blake claims the bubble is also being used to attempt to keep out the never ending scandalous headlines.
“…..One of the benefits of coming out of last year was that we had to endure a number of incidents last year – and we talk about a bubble….it’s a reminder to focus on our football, our preparation, our commitment to each other. …these off-field incidents are frustrating and annoying for the group, and it is disappointing because we know how great a culture we have at the group”
Blake spoke proudly of making up for scandals on the footy field. Blake may be a very passionate football player but doesn’t he have it backwards?
The community doesn’t really care about what happens on the field. It also begs the question of how you make up for the scandals on the footy field to borrow from Blake’s expression.
Unless I have been laboring under a misconception, the game of football is played on the field. Off the field, in the community, in schools, those “off field incidents” are being trivialised by Blake as mere “distractions“. It is what happens off the field which is real life, in theory at least.
The community lives “off the Field” Jason Blake. It isn’t just a football game when these antics damage people’s lives.
Understandably Blake is focused on St Kilda doing better at their sport in 2011, a well worn theme which the media and fans are seizing upon to sweep this under the carpet when they repeat the Saints motto and rallying cry ‘strength through loyalty and numbers’.
Whose loyalty are we talking about?
It certainly isn’t loyalty to the spirit and letter of the AFL Code of Conduct and club contractual obligations regarding inappropriate sex. Nor is it loyalty adhering to community standards.
As the article suggests Gilbert is remorseful and the team is healing. However there is some cleansing that needs to be done before healing can take place. Before licking their wounds, there is a minor issue that remains unaddressed in terms of the AFL Code of Conduct and contractual stipulations precluding age inappropriate sex.
Ron Barrassi, in his response to Blake’s words, clearly has a concept of what honour really is. He is just the kind of role model that AFL needs more than ever now.
I have a strong feeling he would probably take the players out himself if he were in charge of the ship rather than Demetriou. Indeed, if I recall correctly, he was wounded in action (WIA’d) in taking on louts attacking a woman and put himself on the line physically. This reflexive kind of behaviour speaks of an attitude that it is plainly unacceptable behaviour to devalue women.
With regard to the players’ remorse, it is clearly remorse about the violation of trust between team mates . St Kilda announcing that Gilbert is “remorseful” and “important to us” as “on and off the field a champion” doesn’t console me.
Blakes’s ‘back tobusiness as usual‘ attitude may give a fanatical football club fan confidence and solace that the boys have ‘ moved on’. However it smacks of an attitude of we wouldn’t have done anything differently if we had to do it all again, with the exception of not betraying our Captain and being aware of the dangers of social media. We have all kissed and made up.
The problem is that there is no indication of any sign of change. Looking ahead, moving on and focusing on the season is the way a team of footballers would be expected to behave as athletes. However sports is not just about being winners and grand final contenders.
Off-field antics aren’t a game. They occur in the real world. They hurt innocent people who have put their trust in players and more broadly the AFL and football clubs. Statements like these leave the club vulnerable to leaving a trail of destruction behind them and create the conditions for them acting with impunity in the future if it goes unchecked.
AFL legend Ron Barrassi poses the obvious question “so the sex scandal doesn’t affect anything because of the bubble?” Barrassi’s sentiment is well communicated.
It appears the to Blake attitude is that the ends justifies the means, echoing the sentiment “its more than a game”. Why worry about a little collateral damage along the way involving the degradation of women if we can play better footy and bond in 2011?
The critical question for the public is, whether on balance, it is worth the cost? Is the entertainment that fans derive from the game offset by the precipitation of an ongoing decline in the behavioural standards of players. I doubt very much whether the AFL have considered the legal and other repercussions of their inaction.
As Barrassi notes the AFL is turning a blind eye to the AFL’s Code of Conduct violation and club contractual obligations in respect of age inappropriate sex.
The AFL has simply turned a wilful blind eye to the violation of these obligations which players were asked to sign on to and more importantly adhere to.
If the AFL and clubs don’t ensure they are adhered to, once on notice, the AFL expose themselves as an organisation to condonement. The AFL are vicariously liable for the behaviour of other players, officials, servants and clubs.
If or perhaps when the AFL decide to eventually dismiss or sanction a player for inappropriate sexual behaviour, it isn’t inconceivable that a player could allude to this incident as a precedent to defend their illegal actions in contravention of the Code. They could invoke the ‘St Kilda Defence’.
In giving up the moral high ground, the AFL are paving the way for a player to invoke a legal defence to a code violation or a breach of the contract.
In other words a player could legitimately contend that there was some collateral purpose for their dismissal or for the punishment meted out to them. It might provide an escape route for clubs wanting to renege on their contractual obligations. Ultimately they may even find themselves having to compensate a player for dismissal.
The AFL could find themselves sued by victims and players over the same incident.
Common sense, let alone code and contractual obligations, dictate that players should exercise caution when dealing with sexual relations which are age inappropriate. The criminal law proscribes such behaviour under a certain age and for a 16 year old under certain circumstances.
To have such a carefree attitude about this condonement is perilous.
I imagine the contractual obligation and Code stipulations regarding age inappropriate sex have a sound basis.
Please correct me if I am wrong but the Code stipulations probably foreshadow or envision the very problem which has just occurred. I am guessing that this is probably the reason why revisions were made which are enshrined in the Code.
The alternative explanation is that the rules were only really ever designed to pay lip service to the wrongs they are aimed at preventing.