NO PLACE FOR SLEDGING IN SPORT

NT News - - FRONT PAGE - JILL POULSEN jill.poulsen@news.com.au @jil­l_poulsen

WHAT is it that makes some pro­fes­sional sports­men think they’re a law unto them­selves?

The topic of sledging has been hotly de­bated this week fol­low­ing an AFL game that saw Carl­ton cap­tain, Marc Mur­phy, ver­bally tar­geted dur­ing the match.

Although it is still not known what the ex­act taunts lev­elled at him were, it’s un­der­stood they were “highly per­sonal” and re­lated to Mur­phy’s fam­ily.

It doesn’t re­ally mat­ter ex­actly what was said, it was in­tended to hurt Mur­phy and by all ac­counts it did.

Mind you the ver­bal bat­tle wasn’t all one-way – Mur­phy later sparked a brawl when he re­tal­i­ated and sledged St Kilda de­fender Jake Carlisle as he lay hurt on the field.

Ev­ery big name in footy has chucked their two cents in with some say­ing that a bit of sledging is good for the game and oth­ers say­ing it’s com­pletely in­ap­pro­pri­ate.

I’m not a big name in footy but I am a big mouth with a col­umn so I’m go­ing to chuck my two cents in, too.

It baf­fles me how any­one could think it’s OK to be nasty to other peo­ple just be­cause you’re run­ning around chas­ing ball? Calm down, it’s just a game. If this type of carry on hap­pened at most other work­places you’d be out the door be­fore you could even fin­ish a ‘ya mum’ joke.

Last year Greater Western Syd­ney’s Shane Mum­ford sledged/bul­lied Lance Franklin dur­ing a match say­ing: “Good to see you’re not on hol­i­days this year” re­fer­ring to Franklin’s men­tal health is­sues.

He has since ex­pressed re­gret over the com­ments and called Franklin to apol­o­gise “if I over­stepped the line”.

This whole ‘in the heat of the mo­ment’, ‘high pres­sure sit­u­a­tion’, ‘some sledging is OK but some isn’t’, ‘there’s sand and there is a line’ rhetoric is rub­bish.

Do you know what else is a high pres­sure sit­u­a­tion? Sav­ing peo­ple’s lives, yet most emer­gency doc­tors and nurses mange to get through that with­out slag­ging off each other’s ro­man­tic part­ners.

“A bit of sledging is good for the game,” the pro sledgers say.

You can’t hon­estly ex­pect us to be­lieve that bul­ly­ing other peo­ple makes you bet­ter at sport.

As if all the codes out­lawed the prac­tice fewer goals would be scored, wick­ets taken and tack­les made. I don’t think so. At the end of the day be­ing a pro­fes­sional sportsper­son is a job.

And no­body should have to go to work and be fear­ful of what nasty com­ment might be made about their ap­pear­ance, fam­ily, race, re­li­gion etc.

Just this week my friend got told off at a net­ball match for yelling out “send them home” to cheer on his favourite team. The other team said it was “too neg­a­tive”.

Imag­ine what would have hap­pened if he started scream­ing out about the other team’s med­i­cal his­tory?

He would have been booted for life be­cause most of our lo­cal sport­ing com­mu­ni­ties have de­cided there’s no place for that type of be­hav­iour on or off the sport­ing field.

Any­way back to my orig­i­nal ques­tion about what makes some pro­fes­sional sports­men think they’re above the rest of us?

I reckon or­gan­i­sa­tions like the AFL who stand by and do noth­ing when one of their em­ploy­ees is be­ing abused prob­a­bly has some­thing to do with it.

Pic­ture: LU­CAS DAW­SON/SUP­PLIED/LAVAZZA

Marc Mur­phy and his wife Jessie at the Lavazza Su­per­box at the Aus­tralian Open

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