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Who’s to blame for the Majak Daw beat-up?

Michael DiFabrizio Columnist

By Michael DiFabrizio, Michael DiFabrizio is a Roar Expert

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    Emerging North Melbourne star, Majak Daw has been charged with sexual assault. (Slattery Images)

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    For a player who’s never played a game of senior AFL footy, North Melbourne rookie Majak Daw sure gets a lot of attention.

    He’s the first Sudanese-born player listed by an AFL club, so you can understand there’s some public interest there.

    But does he warrant the kind of attention the Herald Sun gave him today?

    The paper’s front page had a picture of a shirtless Daw next to a headline that read: “A former teammate’s ex, partying, an unpaid debt … what went wrong with footy’s young gun.”

    The associated story mentions that he owes a teammate a sum of money below $1000 and also had a relationship with the ex-girlfriend of a former teammate, issues which may or may not be causing angst among fellow players (the Herald Sun weren’t able to confirm they were).

    So where did all this come from? Why did the nation’s most popular paper give all this attention to a rookie who’s yet to play a game?

    Well, it all started when Daw had a night on the town instead of doing rehab on an injured knee at home. Later, coach Brad Scott confronted him about it and he lied, saying he wasn’t at a nightclub that night.

    So Scott finds out the truth and Daw gets suspended for his lie. North Melbourne then release a press release stating he’s been suspended but refuse to reveal why.

    That’s when things started to get out of hand. The media, unhappy about not being given the reason for the suspension, started to dig around (which was fine, that is their job). When they dug, though, they found more than they bargained for, and that’s how we got today’s front page.

    Make no mistake, the story today was a beat-up. Do we really care who Daw is seeing or if he has a minor debt with a teammate? At the very least, do we care enough for this stuff to be on the front page?

    No, we don’t. But it’s worth noting whether we care or not was not the Herald Sun’s justification.

    Mark Robinson had a comment piece in the paper today which blamed North Melbourne for all the attention on Daw.

    “A wordy press release that Majak Daw had been suspended, on which the club wouldn’t elaborate, made this bigger than it should’ve been,” he wrote.

    “And it is North’s fault. […] The ‘we’re not telling but he’s done something wrong’ stance by the club set the wolves hunting.”

    Still, many readers weren’t happy. Among them was another high-profile athlete, Andrew Bogut, who took to Twitter with his disappointment.

    In response, Herald Sun journo Jon Ralph tweeted: “It’s never the fault of the player (lying), or club (butchered press release). It’s always the tabloid media!!!”

    Ultimately, Ralph is right. All three parties must share the blame.

    Daw shouldn’t have been out partying when he should’ve been at home doing rehab. He also shouldn’t have lied about it.

    North, in hindsight, should’ve stated that lying to the coach was the reason for the suspension. Ironically, they were probably trying to protect their young player from the media by not saying anything and in an ideal world, that would work out. But they let their player down by not taking a more realistic approach.

    The media, meanwhile, need to learn that while a club staying quiet does give you permission to dig a little deeper, it doesn’t mean you have permission to publish everything you find – especially when you publish information (the debt, the girlfriend) entirely unrelated to the story in question (Daw being suspended).

    As for putting it on the front page, well, surely there’s more important things that belong there.

    Michael DiFabrizio
    Michael DiFabrizio

    Michael DiFabrizio is based in Mildura, Victoria. He has been an expert columnist at The Roar since 2009, leading to appearances on ABC News 24 and in the Age. Follow Michael on Twitter @MichaelDiFab.

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    The Crowd Says (33)

    • February 9th 2012 @ 12:25pm
      ygoslo said | February 9th 2012 @ 12:25pm | ! Report

      The Herald Sun has no one to blame but itself and Rupert for being a garbage, muck raking rag. It’s not North’s fault. Note that The Age got the same info from North and didn’t run a rubbish beat up story.

    • Roar Rookie

      February 9th 2012 @ 12:34pm
      Stuart Fazakerley said | February 9th 2012 @ 12:34pm | ! Report

      The old radio show Get This used to sum up tabloid trash like the Hun perfectly. It’s all nameless sources, insiders, sources close to the source, fellow diners, pals. It’s their excuse to publish whatever they like.

      Majak obviously has to take his medicine for lying to his coach, but the club should have made clear why he was punished, instead of calling it ‘cultural’. You can’t give the Hun and co any rope.

    • February 9th 2012 @ 12:35pm
      Australian Rules said | February 9th 2012 @ 12:35pm | ! Report

      Well summarised Michael.

      I guess the way this ‘nothing story’ played out over the last 24hrs is a symptom of both the degree of celebrity for AFL players in Melbourne, and the incessant 24hr ‘news cycle’ which churns out of modern mediums (twitter, newspapers, blogs, tv, radio etc), much much quicker than it ever did.

      It’s a total non-story…but North didn’t help themselves, or him. The media’s (not necessarily the AFL’s) obsession with realising the feel good yarn of a Sudanese-born player (who looks like a potentially brilliant athlete btw) also drives content on this bloke.

      Welcome to the life of a professional footballer in Melbourne Majak.

    • Roar Guru

      February 9th 2012 @ 12:40pm
      The Cattery said | February 9th 2012 @ 12:40pm | ! Report

      As long as the door remains open for the magic man.

      • February 10th 2012 @ 11:13am
        Clayts said | February 10th 2012 @ 11:13am | ! Report

        The Daw you mean?

    • Roar Guru

      February 9th 2012 @ 12:51pm
      Redb said | February 9th 2012 @ 12:51pm | ! Report

      North are mostly to blame for this fiasco. Sure the HS would still run with it, but without the angst and intrigue created by Arocca’s absurd presser his story would have less legs.

    • Roar Guru

      February 9th 2012 @ 1:00pm
      ItsCalledFootball said | February 9th 2012 @ 1:00pm | ! Report

      This sort of thing happens in all sports and papers have to be sold to meet cash flow.

      But maybe in some sense, the AFL is the victim of its own popularity in Melbourne – bad publicity is good publicity.

      The AFL want people like Daw to succeed so it can attest to the poularity of AFL and that migrants and refugees don’t just like football. Every player from another country or another code gets a special mention in the media to show just how much AFL is growing and how popular it is around the world.

      • Roar Guru

        February 9th 2012 @ 1:46pm
        The Cattery said | February 9th 2012 @ 1:46pm | ! Report

        Yeh, but this Majak Daw story was pushed by neither the AFL or North, but grew its own head of steam, maybe because of his unique circumstances, or just maybe because people were hoping for juicy morsels that never materialised. Either way, the AFL has had zero involvement in the story.

      • February 9th 2012 @ 1:47pm
        hog said | February 9th 2012 @ 1:47pm | ! Report

        Agree Daw has been used as a pin-up boy for AFL expansion.

        • Roar Guru

          February 9th 2012 @ 1:56pm
          Redb said | February 9th 2012 @ 1:56pm | ! Report

          How so?

          Daw plays in a Victorian league, what expansion are you talking about.
          Integration, harmony, sure why not.

          The soccer poster above hates AFL and thinks everything is a conspiracy against it.

        • Roar Guru

          February 9th 2012 @ 2:05pm
          The Cattery said | February 9th 2012 @ 2:05pm | ! Report

          Immigrants have been playing Australian Football since 1858 – nothing new there.

          When you have someone who is 195cm tall running around a footy field (same height as Izzy Folau), that’s going to generate plenty of interest and excitement on its own.

          That he represents a newly arrived immigrant group -well, that’s great – and when your first name is Majak – that’s even better.

          • February 9th 2012 @ 2:51pm
            Titus said | February 9th 2012 @ 2:51pm | ! Report

            We see in Football, based on the players at the top level, that Footballers of African heritage are exciting, skillful, flamboyant players, see Drogba, Balotelli, Adebayor etc and this has a run on affect to any footballer of African heritage.

            Everyone is quick to place unrealistic expectations on a player because they are black, often before they have ever accomplished anything. You need look no further than players like Kofi Danning and Bernie Ibisi.

            I have no idea who this guy is or how good he is but I would imagine that a similar thing is happening here but possiblymagnified as he is the only player of African heritage playing AFL/top level, and some people might be hoping this could be the beginning of the African players bringing the same excitement to AFL that they do to Football.

            • February 9th 2012 @ 3:56pm
              ManInBlack said | February 9th 2012 @ 3:56pm | ! Report

              He’s not actually the only player of African heritage, currently Fremantle has Tendai Mzungu (of East African descent) and Gold Coast has Joel Wilkinson (Nigerian descent), and there may be others but that’s beside the point. I think these guys are mostly Australian born.

              Majak Daw though is important as a ‘new arrival’, and the Sudanese demographic has had some negative publicity – so, is Daw more important for the AFL? or more important for multi-culturalism and as a potential role model for the Sudanese community? I’ve gained the impression is more of the latter than the former.

              For the AFL though – his particular brand of build and athleticism is very alluring. He hasn’t yet reached the top level, but, there have been numerous sensational glimpses from his time in the VFL. He’s still got a bit to do to warrant a game and that’s the key here – he’s a young kid from a relatively unique background (in the AFL environment) and he has big enough challenges ahead without this sort of distraction. And that was pretty well why the invitation to meet with the Queen was answered with a “Thanks, but no thanks”.

            • February 9th 2012 @ 4:46pm
              Australian Rules said | February 9th 2012 @ 4:46pm | ! Report

              That’s undoubtedly true Titus.

              He plays in the 2nd tier competition (VFL) and gets more media than any other player in that comp. The reason is the African factor.

            • Roar Guru

              February 9th 2012 @ 5:30pm
              The Cattery said | February 9th 2012 @ 5:30pm | ! Report

              I don’t disagree with anything you’ve said, and when you see this bloke moving around, at 195 cm, and see his physique, it’s natural for anyone involved in footy to think to themselves: are there more of these sorts of blokes from where he came? And the obvious answer is a resounding yes.

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