The arguments for and against Jack Watts

Ken Sakata Columnist

By Ken Sakata, Ken Sakata is a Roar Expert

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    Jack Watts is handsome, 6’5″ and aggressively white. By conservative estimates, Watts earns probably four times what I do, despite the fact we’re both fairly average at our jobs.

    We live in a society that’s built for a Jack Watts-type to not only succeed, but dominate.

    I’m watching Jack Watts play the Anzac Eve game. After a goal late in the first quarter, he threatened to break the game open with speed, precise kicking and lateral movement. In typical Watts fashion, he disappears from the game almost immediately after. He finished the game with just one tackle.

    I feel sorry for Jack Watts. Yes – tall, beautiful, blonde, private school Watts. It seems ludicrous that I should feel anything but resentment for this man, this caricature of privilege.

    I don’t quite understand my feelings. I’m not usually the magnanimous type.

    Maybe it’s because Jack Watts is a football player in the same way Delta Goodrem is a singer. In the same way a Savoy is a cracker. In the same way a Kraft Single is cheese.

    Melbourne drafted the Savoy number one in the 2008 draft. Years later, we dump on the Dees for not picking what is now the consensus choice – Nic Naitanui, number two in the draft and the undisputed Pizza Shapes of players.

    Comparing the relative merits of the two now, with the benefit of hindsight and a chasm of flavour between them, is unfair and tedious.

    Nic Naitanui of the West Coast Eagles

    Melbourne simply messed up.

    A quick dip into the 2008 draft reports is a race warriors’ buffet in confirmation bias. If you were looking for an uncomfortable, problematic side to football, you could certainly find it. Codified language dominates every profile.

    Nic Naitanui had a ‘cool name’, ‘freakish’ ability, ‘a head full of dreadlocks’ and ‘a marketing department’s dream come true’. Watts was “very intelligent”, “a widely respected character” with “very very good hands”.

    I’m sure Melbourne’s selection of Watts over Naitanui wasn’t remotely about race. But examining the phrasing of those reports convinces me that the reporting of it definitely was.

    The fact that nine years later, we’ve embraced Naitanui as one of the more successful stars of the game shouldn’t make us believe we exist in some post-racial utopia.

    Even in 2017, as an ethnic person, there is nothing more infuriating than watching the effortless success of your white mates on Tinder.

    It does make a kind of sense to defend Jack Watts. Despite his height and his natural abilities, Watts was drafted into a failing administration, a revolving door of coaches and several list turnovers.

    He has never had the stability to develop into the player he was touted to be. It’s no coincidence that none of Carlton’s three No. 1 picks (Murphy, Gibbs and Kreuzer) has eventuated to be the best player in their respective drafts.

    It does make sense to write him off, too. Jack Watts is symbolic of our deepest fears- unrealised potential, public scrutiny and a rapid fall from grace. To reject Watts is to exorcise that voodoo from your own life. Jack Watts is not inspirational. Jack Watts is cautionary.

    Melbourne Demons player Jack Watts

    Even though I am a person of a wildly different background, an immigrant who came to this country (thanks to a 457 visa), who knew nothing but public schools and has average height, I realise that football has a way of bridging gaps, of empathy and of humanising almost any character.

    It’s not that much of a stretch to imagine the pain of unrealistic expectation, of reframing your own aspirations, or the rejection of a community your career is built around.

    Jack Watts will probably go down as a general failure. But isn’t that more in line with our own human experience? Most of life is failing. Surely we have more in common with Watts’s narrative than Nat Fyfe’s – an unrelatable man-horse who plays football.

    Watts sells a line of clothes – ‘Skwosh’. Specifically, little patterned shorts (watermelons, pineapples, toucans etc.) You can get them for eighty dollars on the internet. I have no experience with Skwosh because (1) they’re little shorts and (2) they run you eighty dollars.

    Skwosh is advertised as ‘the next best thing to swimming naked’. This is on the surface, ridiculous. Swimming naked is horrible for men – things that aren’t propellers become propellers etc.

    I can only imagine when they drag my body out of the muddy Yarra, it would be embarrassing to be found naked. Obviously. But I’m willing to be empathic and understand the words of men from a different culture.

    And I agree with Jack Watts, my brother.

    Yes, to be found wearing shorts with watermelons on them would be slightly worse.

    Ken Sakata
    Ken Sakata

    Ken Sakata is a sportswriter based in Melbourne, covering where sport and pop-culture collide with a keen interest in AFL. You can find him on Twitter and Instagram @sakatarama

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    The Crowd Says (49)

    • Roar Pro

      April 25th 2017 @ 5:27am
      Marty Gleason said | April 25th 2017 @ 5:27am | ! Report

      Maybe you chose the title, maybe you didn’t. But The Arguments For and Against Jack Watts…HIS EXISTENCE AS A PERSON?!

      • Columnist

        April 25th 2017 @ 10:45am
        Ken Sakata said | April 25th 2017 @ 10:45am | ! Report

        Marty. I really really like Jack Watts as a footballer. He’s not an amazing player per se, sure. But I find his narrative human and extremely relatable. I’m more Watts than Fyfe. Most of us are.

        If I had my time again, I probably would have gone with “I Really Like Jack Watts. Although I Don’t Understand Why”

    • April 25th 2017 @ 7:53am
      Bob GOOCH said | April 25th 2017 @ 7:53am | ! Report

      Watts or ” sheep dog ” as he is affectionately ? Known as by the inner sanctom of Melbourne supporters, is simply not up to it and the sooner the club recognises this the sooner he will be moved on and the sooner us members can be listened to the sooner the club might enjoy more success on the field – maybe

      • Columnist

        April 25th 2017 @ 10:56am
        Ken Sakata said | April 25th 2017 @ 10:56am | ! Report

        Well he’s not Jesus. But he’s not that bad.

    • April 25th 2017 @ 8:14am
      Blake Standfield said | April 25th 2017 @ 8:14am | ! Report

      Unfortunately we’ll never know the full potential of Jack Watts as he ended up at the talent destroying, legacy tarnishing, money sucking bottomless pit of ineptitude that is the Demons. Hopefully Hogan is smart enough to get out of there.

      • April 25th 2017 @ 2:00pm
        Kaniel Outis said | April 25th 2017 @ 2:00pm | ! Report

        Melbourne are the biggest false alarmists going around. I bet Hogan can’t wait to get out of the joint. The last one to leave turn off the lights.

    • April 25th 2017 @ 8:20am
      hal said | April 25th 2017 @ 8:20am | ! Report

      The problem with Melbourne is the old boys who run the club. Melbourne is the club of the WASP elite. The inner sanctum of this club still want Melbourne to be made up of white (Nordic types) men of various protestant faiths, from a handful of suburbs, such as Toorak, Armadale, Brighton, and Camberwell. They dream about a bunch of ex private school (not public school, that is what English people call private schools) prefects playing for their club, and taking them to the promised land. Jack Watts epitomizes everything that Melbourne, and their reactionary supporters (talk back radio host, far right columnist in the Herald Sun, newly elected senator et al) stand for. Watts is not just white, he is what racists call Nordic, he is protestant, and he was educated at Brighton Grammar. Melbourne will remain the most irrelevant club in the AFL because they are anchored to the Menzies era.

      • April 25th 2017 @ 10:11am
        GJ said | April 25th 2017 @ 10:11am | ! Report

        Well that comes across as shallow and narrow minded.

      • Columnist

        April 25th 2017 @ 11:07am
        Ken Sakata said | April 25th 2017 @ 11:07am | ! Report

        I genuinely think the Dees chose Watts because they thought he was better.

        It’s the media/reporting on ethnic/aboriginal players that’s problematic. We have an issue with codified language (e.g. excitement machine etc)

      • April 26th 2017 @ 1:44pm
        Correct said | April 26th 2017 @ 1:44pm | ! Report

        Dear boy, Public Schools is also a term applied to the 11 member schools of the Associated Public Schools of Victoria. Brighton is a member but is generally considered one of the lesser schools as it only joined the APS in the 1950s.

        The concept of Watts being a poster boy for the Melbourne FC establishment doesn’t hold water because he is ex-Brighton Grammar – a “Tonner” as they call themselves. Probably more suited to St.Kilda FC actually. If he had gone to Melbourne Grammar, that would fit closer to the stereotype.

        • April 27th 2017 @ 7:44am
          Kaniel Outis said | April 27th 2017 @ 7:44am | ! Report

          Correct: The government should put no money into these schools. If parents want to send their kids to these schools that is their right, however these schools should not be funded by the government. In reality they are public schools as they receive public money. If they were truly independent schools, as they purport to be, they would not receive one cent of government money. They may be referred to as public schools in their own ruling class and upper middle class circles, but we in the working class refer to them as private schools, even though they are in fact public (for the reason outlined above).

          Another problem is when new suburbs are built the only schools built are private schools (sic). Australia has one of the highest rates of private education in the world. More and more footballers are coming from such schools, given their elite government funded sports programs. These schools also poach academically gifted kids from the state system. Personally I think we should be like Finland, where all schools are government run. State schools don’t discriminate whereas private schools do.

          It is quite understandable that in the broader community there is a heap of resentment towards these schools, especially after Kennett took away people’s local primary and high schools to further advance, so called private education. Brighton Grammar can hardly be seen as a poor struggling school. It is located in the third wealthiest suburb in Melbourne, where Anglicans still out number Catholics, according to census data. Brighton is one of the least multi cultural suburbs in Melbourne. You must excuse me but I have no sympathy for Brighton Grammar as it is a school for the elite privileged few.

          • April 27th 2017 @ 2:55pm
            Correct said | April 27th 2017 @ 2:55pm | ! Report

            Way to go off on a tangent. You should be more appreciative of the APS. If it wasn’t for Melbourne Grammar and Scotch, there might not be Australian Rules football. Huzzah!

    • Roar Rookie

      April 25th 2017 @ 8:32am
      TheRev said | April 25th 2017 @ 8:32am | ! Report

      Do you have any sauce to go with that chip on your shoulder?

      Singling Watts out for being white, tall, attractive and wealthy doesn’t make him a bad person or deserving of criticism for the sake of it.

      As a footballer he has managed to improve dramatically over the last 2 seasons after being shunted around different positions and being developed in the same way umpteen other draftees (e.g. Bleese, Strauss) from the Schwab era were.

      This year he has regularly in the best for Melbourne and he kicked 38 Goals last year.

      He isn’t a dominant #1 pick like Luke Hodge but is probably better than other #1 pick Josh Fraser. Remember, the 2008 draft also brought us Ty Vickery at #8.

      Watts was taken with the #1 pick as Nick Nat stated he would only leave Perth if his family would come with him, something the Dees wouldn’t run at and also not Watts’ fault.

      I agree that the clothing line is naff, but who cares?

      Well done on getting comments, but maybe play the ball, not the man.,

    • April 25th 2017 @ 8:58am
      Rob said | April 25th 2017 @ 8:58am | ! Report

      Wtf?

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