Wednesday, June 18, 2008

If you want the Brownlow, don't act like a thug

I was interested to read what Corey McKernan and Chris Grant had to say about the possibility of an ineligible player winning the Brownlow this year as a result of a reprimand, but not weeks off.

First of all, both players would have won Brownlows if it hadn't been for suspension - in the days before the tribunal had the option of "reprimanding" players without the player missing weeks. I'd say at the very least that makes them more sympathetic to the case of ineligible players*

Secondly, let's look at the two of the three incidents that our attention is called to. Firstly Adam Goodes.

Adam Goodes has been extremely lucky - some would say suspiciously so - not to have been suspended on three separate occasions in recent years. Most people who saw footage of the incident where he made contact would agree that he was blessed to get away with what he did.

And it's not the first occasion he has. Goodes is, in my opinion, a thug. The umpires probably agree, as they've reported him three times in recent years. The Tribunal, in their wisdom, seem to get no further than "Adam Goodes, from Sydney" before going as easy as possible, or dismissing charges altogether. No sympathy from me there.

The second incident was Buddy Franklin's contact on Doughty of Adelaide. Now, had he only made contact, I might be a little more lenient. But just before he made contact, he raised his arm. Given that the contact was side-on from Buddy, it couldn't be said to be defensive, either. The other feature of the incident that garners a mental cross from me was the fact that the contact was to the head.

Sorry, Buddy. That's the one thing in the rule book that you aren't getting away with. Head high contact of that nature is always going to get you a reprimand at the least. This is not a contentious decision. You were always going to be found guilty. Suck it up.

The argument for changing the eligibility system I've heard so far is two-fold. The first is that reprimands should not mean ineligibility for the Brownlow. The second is that if we want the best player to win, they shouldn't be ineligible at all.

Firstly, reprimands were brought in to give repeat offenders penalties more weight, and to be able to take a players good conduct into account when dishing out punishment. It also gives weight to people who cop it sweet and don't try and get off on a technicality. It gives the AFL the chance to publicly disagree with a players conduct, but if the offence is comparatively minor, still means the player doesn't miss any game time. It's a system that probably needs a little tweaking - like all new systems - but it's one that in general I agree with.

Secondly, the Brownlow medal is awarded to the Best and Fairest. Notice the second word? Fairest.

No player who has been suspended or reprimanded should be able to wear a medal around their neck at the end of the year claiming they are the best and fairest.

By all means, introduce an award for the best player. But to award the Brownlow medal to a player who has been reprimanded or suspended goes against the spirit of the award itself. And where would we draw the line? What if Barry Hall polled the most votes this year? Would anyone be arguing he deserves to be titled the Best and Fairest of 2008?

I think not. Bring in an award for the best player regardless of conduct and I won't object. But corrupt the Brownlow, and I'm tipping I won't be the only person who loses all respect for the accolade.

* Before anyone eagle eyed spots a possible spot of hypocrisy in this post, may I just have it noted that in the year that James Hird and Michael Voss won the Brownlow, it was as a result of the suspension of McKernan? Not that I think it colours my reading of the situation, but I just thought in the spirit of honesty I'd pop that in.

No comments: