Chum in the water

8 11 2007

There seems to be a very large gap with the expectations we set for our professional athletes in Australia, and the reality that inevitably follows.

Ben Cousins - disgraced drug user or a victim of preciptious action?With the relevations at the end of last season painting the Hawthorn FC in a not-too-favourable light, earlier in the season the Alan Didak mess (a Collingwood footballer who found himself associated with an alleged murderer) and then at the end of the season the issues clouding both the Chris Mainwarring & Ben Cousins situations, surely you’d think that it would have resulted in the dawn of a new realization in Australia: Athletes aren’t necessarily role models.

The ensuing storm has subsided somewhat, and sure, some athletes are deserving of being held in high esteem… but as far as foibles go, the vast majority of sports people aren’t a lot different from the rest of the general populace.

There’s probably nothing new in this: it’s most likely been a reality for as long as pro-sports have been around. However, the private lives of our sports heroes are less sacrosanct than they were 40 years ago. And within those lives, the media are more likely to report on the lawlessness than the largesse. Simply a fact of operating.

Sex sells? So does schadenfreude (satisfaction or pleasure felt at someone else’s misfortune), and it’s never greater than when the fall is from the highest point.
Add to the mix: sports are a far more financially lucrative undertaking than they were even ten years ago. It’s inevitable that some young men with lots of time & money on their hands will find themselves doing things that those with better judgment might avoid.

So… back to Australia and the AFL footballers who were outed. The story got quashed fairly quickly – legal action from the AFL meant that the names remained in the public domain for only a very short time. But whilst there seemed to be a race amongst politiciansIs the system working? and game executives as to who could create the best sound-bite on ‘personal liberties’, there was a large section of the populace who wanted nothing more than to have those in question punished, and punished now – regardless of the legalities involved. Civil liberties be damned.

In Australia, there’s a real gap in the expectations the general public have on their sports-heroes, and the reality of what’s actually going on. This is something the world at large has experienced over the last few decades, and it’s something that is only just being begun to be realized, at least by the public in general, in Australia. The fury that was expressed over this… well, it was rather surprising. This anger seems to be more a somewhat-naïve reaction over the ruination of childhood dreams and fantasies, rather than truly at 3 young men who made errors in life, and are trying to move on.

What does this mean for sport in general? Well, on a global level it’s interesting to see that all sports are headed down the same path, and the world’s media enthusiastically trots along behind, gleefully pointing at the messes made along the way.

In Australia we witnessed drug scandals in both the AFL & the NRL (Australia’s leading rugby league).
In England we have the jewel of Premier League soccer – Manchester United embroiled in scandal post Christiano Ronaldo’s orgy.
Japan’s leading Sumo wrestler is suffering from depression, and the sport is struggling to deal with anything remotely resembling sensitivity. Same country – soccer star Naoya Kikuchi is sacked by his team for having sex with a minor. Daiki Kameda & the entire Kameda family are suspended from participating in boxing, after the 18 year old Kameda made a total farce of his title-shot bout against Daisuke Naito – turning it into a veritable WWE event.Scumbag?
The US is eagerly awaiting the sentencing of Michael Vick. We all enthusiastically watched the New York Knicks/Isiah Thomas scandal with voyeuristic abandon. We all watch earnestly to see if OJ Simpson may finally go to jail.
Chum in the water.

If nothing else, that’s something that these people can give to society: athletes are people, just like you & I – all capable of the same poor judgment… and actions should have consequences, regardless of who you are.

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A Kicking Balls Special: Channel 7 vs AFL/AFLPA – The War begins

30 08 2007

Kicking BallsIt would seem that the issue of Channel 7’s obtaining and airing of private medical records is going to get ugly. Really ugly. Players are refusing to do interviews with Ch7 reporters (except at Essendon, where 7 is a sponsor, and Chris Grant and Darryl Wakelin answered questions also at their press conferences yesterday) and there is talk of boycotting 7’s coverage of the Brownlow. The AFL met with 7 yesterday, and talks didn’t go according to plan. 7 has refused to agree to permanently surpress the content of it’s controversial news report. The AFL and AFLPA are seeking a public apology, and 7 has said it would not name the players involved in the controversy, and it would commend the AFL for it’s attempt to tackle the problem of illicit drug use, but they will under no circumstance agree to suppress all the information in the documents. So what does this all mean and what are the contributing factors to each sides arguments?

AFLWell, we’ll start with the AFL. Now don’t get me wrong, they have the best interests of the game at heart. And the ‘best interest of the game’ is a clean image, and they will go to extraordinary lengths to maintain that image. But therein lies the problem. Messages have been delivered time and again that illicit drug use is rife in the sport. It has become incredibly obvious that the AFL was extremely naive about the extent of illicit drug use when it initiated the 3-strike policy. Read the rest of this entry »

Outrage and disgust levelled at Australia’s 7 Network

27 08 2007

Network 7 - Journalism at it’s worst The Australian Football League (AFL) has a ‘three strikes’ policy on recreational drugs. If you get caught/tested 3 times, you will be named publicly and penalised. This policy was part of an illicit drugs code of conduct agreed to by players, and it was voluntary agreed to by the Players Association.

Last week, the Australian Television Network 7 aired a controversial story alleging that there are recreational drug-users in the Australian Football League. Network 7 supported this story by using medical records they ‘bought’ off a mystery woman who claims she found them lying in the gutter outside a rehabilitation clinic. These documents asserted that two players from one particular club were up to 2 strikes on the 3 strike policy. The names of the players/club aren’t released at the moment due to an Victorian High Court injunction on the story.

To make it interesting, Network 7 currently hold the rights to televise AFL games in Australia. Read the rest of this entry »

Top Sports Stories in Japan… (August 24)

24 08 2007

Nice Hitomi, nice…Well… good to see a lil’ controversy on the boards (thanks Riddler!)… nice day today. Not so stinkin’ hot!

So… the top sports headlines in Japan are:

Bad Hair Day: Nippon Pro-Baseball doping scandal!

12 08 2007

Banned for hair tonic… bad, bad Rick GuttormsonWell, it’s finally hit Japan. Drugs in baseball. A player was busted for… wait for it… Hair Growth Formula. Yes, that’s right: Hair Growth Formula. The illegal (within baseball laws) ingredient within is finasteride, the active ingredient in hair tonics, Proscar Finasteride & Propecia Finasteride.

The first ever suspended under the new drug policy, Rick Guttormson of the Softbank Hawks failed his drug test – testing positive for finasteride. The American pitcher was suspended for 20 days, and the Hawks hit with a 7.5 million yen fine (almost $US 65,000). I guess it’s a case of ‘Hair today, gone tomorrow’…

Now, why is this particular hair tonic on a banned list? Because it’s a common masking agent for Nandrolone.

Being banned for finasteride isn’t new – US Winter Olympic Skeleton racer Zach Lund tested positive at the 2006 Turin Olympics, and was booted from the games, then suspended for a year. Former Montreal Canadiens goalie Jose Theodore also tested positive for it, and was dropped from the Canadian team just prior to Turin. He wasn’t penalised by the NHL, but was banned from international play for 2 years.

Guttormson, a native of Torrance, California has been using it for about 2 years… to the best of my knowledge, he doesn’t have a hair problem. Perhaps it was just ‘preventive measures’.

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A Kicking Balls special: AFL Controversy!

6 08 2007


The most controversial point of the weekend came when Jason Akermanis, following up comments made last week that he had suspected an opponent of using EPO, passed on the player’s name to ASADA after being contacted by the drug testing agency. It has since been revealed that the player is a West Coast player. I’m not sure what Aker hopes to gain from it, or if anything will be done about it, but it raises, again, the subject of drugs in the sport. This goes on top of Peter Everitt’s claims last week he had only been tested for illicit substances once, in January, and Brent Harvey’s claims he had not been tested this year at all.

Spida Everitt’s claims last week have opened a can of worms that simply won’t go away. The fact he stated he has not been tested for illicit drugs since January is alarming in itself. Read the rest of this entry »