It’s a while since I played competitive football, but I don’t believe I played a single game of senior AFL without hearing homophobic slurs.
In every single game I played someone was referred to as a ‘poofter’, a ‘faggot’ or ‘gay’. Or some comment was made eluding to sexual activity with a member of the same sex. Every single game…without fail. It was just considered a part of the sledging culture in the game.
For the most part, it didn’t offend. Those making the comments weren’t genuinely suggesting that their opponents were homosexual, it’s just that this was the most confronting thing they could think to say. There were also many racial slurs made.
I’m not saying it’s right….and I don’t know if things have changed dramatically in the last 15 years, but I’m just saying it was rife and rampant on the AFL grounds of the North Coast and Newcastle.
I also think there’s a much more entrenched sledging culture in AFL than is the case in rugby union. In the rugby codes, the playing action takes place in the no mans land between the lines. It means that the players only come together when those lines cross and for the most part the referee is close by when that occurs.
Its different in AFL. The lack of offside rule means that direct opponents get to spend the afternoon very close to each other. There’s a lot of opportunity to ‘get in the ear of your opponent’.
What David Pocock did may change things, particularly at the highest level of the game, because it must be said that there weren’t any video replays of any games that I played.
I was initially taken aback that Pocock even bothered to speak to the whistleblowers on this one because as a old dog, I just figured it was part of the game.
In retrospect, it would be pleasing if this ‘boof-head’ part of our football codes could be phased out. If nothing else, the perennial sledgers should be forced to come up with more intelligent insults.
What are your thoughts ?