Abusive comments made at sporting events are nothing new. Despite bodies such as the AFL educating fans on the perils of race-based comments, they still continue.
Racist and abusive comments directed at Coburg players during its round five VFL match at Frankston have led AFL Victoria General Manager Grant Williams calling on the Dolphins to expand security measures at home games and to extend anti-vilification education among its wider supporter base.
AFL Victoria are to be commended for seeking to stamp out abuse at VFL games, but surely this a state-wide football issue rather than a Frankston Football Club issue.
The idea that the Frankston Football Club be solely responsible for what is said by those on the terraces at home games is elitist and something that isn’t expected of the other 12 VFL clubs.
The ‘Hill’ at Frankston isn’t the Philosophy Department at the University of Melbourne. The crowds that gather there represent all walks of life, not a refined community where individual behavior is easily controlled.
When Majak Daw was racially abused at Port Melbourne in 2010, the matter was referred to as a VFL incident, rather than a racism issue engulfing the Port Melbourne Football Club.
Sandringham wasn’t sent a please-explain after supporters baited the injured Brock McLean as he left the field in a 2011 match.
Just because a complaint wasn’t made at club level, or that the comment came from the thermos and cucumber sandwich set, doesn’t mean the incident wasn’t unsavory. It was a poor look for the VFL, especially given it was a ABC match.
Officials, players and crowds have come a long way on the issue of racism.
Sport, however, doesn’t exist in a vacuum. While racism exits in wider society racist comments can be expected from time to time at sporting events.
It is the responsibility of all those involved in sport to tackle racism and boorish behavior.