KATE MASSEY: Should AFL follow NFL and punish the team if player makes homophobic slur like Jeremy Finlayson?

Kate Massey
The Nightly
3 Min Read
KATE MASSEY: A sledge on sexuality is bottom of the barrel. So the AFL coming down hard on Port Adelaide’s Jeremy Finlayson is a no brainer for a no brain comment. But should they go even further like the NFL?
KATE MASSEY: A sledge on sexuality is bottom of the barrel. So the AFL coming down hard on Port Adelaide’s Jeremy Finlayson is a no brainer for a no brain comment. But should they go even further like the NFL? Credit: The Nightly

A sledge in good humour to try to get inside the head and damage the confidence of a sportsperson is somewhat part of sport culture.

It attracts true characters to the likes of cricket and has done so for decades.

The humour can create stars.

Sign up to The Nightly's newsletters.

Get the first look at the digital newspaper, curated daily stories and breaking headlines delivered to your inbox.

Email Us
By continuing you agree to our Terms and Privacy Policy.

But you’d think players would know the limits by now.

There is a clear distinction — no grey — between a joke and just bad form. Even describing it as bad form is softening it. It’s plain insulting and wrong.

A sledge on sexuality is the bottom of the barrel and frankly exposes someone who has a lot to learn.

So coming down hard on Port Adelaide player Jeremy Finlayson is a no-brainer for a no brain comment.

He’s been found guilty of ‘an unprompted and highly offensive homophobic slur’ during a game last Friday night.

The sexuality of the player targeted is irrelevant — it’s the word that sticks.

Port Adelaide vs Essendon
Jeremy Finlayson has been banned for a homophobic slur. Credit: News Corp Australia

The AFL Integrity Commission says the punishment could have been worse had Finlayson not made ‘full and frank admissions’.

It’s worth recognising though, that this is a young man under pressure.

He is indigenous and has no doubt been the target of racism. Of course that doesn’t excuse it.

His wife is also currently in a fight with stage 4 cancer.

To Finlayson’s credit, he apologised immediately and even self-reported to officials what happened at three-quarter time.

Finlayson has since said: “Words can be very hurtful and what I said on Friday night was totally unacceptable.”

He’ll now be sidelined for three weeks and have to take part in a no doubt token program called “Pride in Sport”. He’ll pay for that course himself too.

Seems like a box ticking exercise for the League that supports drug testing players essentially so they can avoid being suspended for four years.

Port Adelaide President David Koch says there is no excuse for slurs, but the club also raised concerns of double standards in the punishment handed down.

Just a month ago, North Melbourne coach Alistair Clarkson was fined $20,000 for calling a player a ‘c..ksucker’ but continued in his role with a 2-match ban suspended.

These slurs might explain why the AFL doesn’t have any openly gay players.

There are few in the NRL too.

In the United States, the NFL brought in a rule a decade ago to not just punish a player, but the entire team with on-field penalties for slurs on sexual orientation or racist remarks.

They take it even more seriously now, worried about the impacts not just on the targeted players, but fans and advertisers.

The Premier League last year fined club Leeds United almost $300,000 for a slur, not from a player but fans in the stands who started a homophobic chant.

The same year, the Wolves were fined $190,000 for a similar drama.

It’s a high level of accountability clearly trying to change acceptable standards away from the field, not just on it.

If the AFL wanted change, they need consistency in punishment to end snap behaviour for good.

Comments

Latest Edition

The front page of The Nightly for 18-06-2024

Latest Edition

Edition Edition 18 June 202418 June 2024

RBA boss turns hopes of mortgage cut on its head, declaring the bank is now only considering LIFTING rates as inflation continues to punish households.