Georgie Parker: How many chances is too many for Tarryn Thomas?

Georgie Parker
The Nightly
3 Min Read
Tarryn Thomas.
Tarryn Thomas. Credit: TheWest

I was as shocked as anyone when I read a headline along the lines of “AFL clubs circling troubled footballer, Tarryn Thomas, as he eyes his return to AFL’’.

Excuse me?

The same Tarryn Thomas at the centre of allegations from multiple women who contacted the AFL claiming he had threatened them?

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The one who was, allegedly, driving over the limit and without a licence? The one who put a photo of him driving with his legs on the dash?

The one who, allegedly, threatened to leak images of his ex-girlfriend in a form of revenge porn?

It couldn’t be… why would any AFL club want to be attached to that?

These are allegations, however the AFL did find enough of a reason to suspend Thomas for 18-weeks earlier this year and require him to take a second round of a behavioural change program before he could join in any league, ending in July.

The AFL has made it known they’re not keen for him to be involved in its system, so why are clubs interested?

As a fan, and as a woman, to even entertain someone with that (alleged) history makes me feel a lot of emotions — disappointment and anger being strong suitors for the top prize.

When does being good at football not excuse you for your behaviour?

It’s as if these clubs are as naive as a young teen in love with a troubled partner who feels as though they can “change them”; believing that, maybe, repeat offenders can change their behaviour after enough time.

But where there’s smoke, there’s often fire, so they need to be treating this with caution.

It seems it’s one rule for some, another for others, and that even extends within the playing cohort themselves.

When does being good at football not excuse you for your behaviour?

Melbourne’s Clayton Oliver, an ‘A-grade’ player, has the club standing by him, to help him be better. I have absolutely no problem with this - that is until you have Joel Smith.

Not an ‘A-grader’ who had a drug indiscretion and instead of the club standing by him, the coach says on live radio he’s “too angry and frustrated to speak to him.” The better you are it seems, the more help they’re willing to offer.

This rule for one, another for others continues even in post-careers in multiple codes around the world.

Broadcasters continue to use former stars of the game, even though their list of indiscretions is sometimes as long as their on-field awards.

They were some of the best to ever do it, so the blinkers are put up.

Women all over the country are living in fear every day.

Will Tarryn Thomas earn another AFL chance?
Will Tarryn Thomas earn another AFL chance? Credit: Michael Willson/AFL Photos

There is an epidemic of violence against women, and leagues, like the AFL, need to use their powerful voice to show their impressionable audience that these behaviours are not okay and won’t be tolerated.

It seems though, in the eyes of the AFL, and unfortunately many of the fans, the better you are at footy the more we can forgive your off-field misdemeanours, particularly if they do it in your team’s colours.

Second opportunities are often fair, we are human after all. But how many is too many? Three? Four? Five?

The AFL is doing its bit, and has offered mental health support to Thomas, and will continue to offer this for as long as he wants.

He won’t be left in the dark, and I wouldn’t want him to be.

I want him to educate himself, not because he has to for an overpaid job of kicking a ball around, but because he should as a member of our society.

Second opportunities are often fair, we are human after all.

But how many is too many? Three? Four? Five? I don’t like to speak on behalf of people, but I can safely say on behalf of female fans all over the country: ‘Yuck’.

To any club even thinking about taking on someone with an (alleged) history like Thomas’s - read the room.

Be better, because we deserve better.

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