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Can AFL club staff commentate on their own clubs?

Roar Rookie
10th September, 2012
5

People holding an official capacity at an AFL club should not commentate or write about the club they are associated with.

These people weaken their comments and views because they are seen as less valid due to their associations with the club.

People cannot help but suspect their comments may have some form of subjective basis, due to their relations currently or formerly with the club.

How can someone who has personal and professional connections with a club commentate, report or write about that club or its players completely objectively?

They are a member of two groups, one as a professional within an organisation outside of the club and as member within their sporting club; this can create conflicts of interest for the person in a range of situations.

The Australian Research Council defines a conflict of interest as “a situation in which someone in a position of trust has competing professional or personal interests. Such competing interests could make it difficult for an individual to fulfill his or her duties impartially, and potentially could improperly influence the performance of their official duties and responsibilities.”

This means these people cannot perform their role with their organisation or employer without influences from their club impacting on them, their tasks and their decisions.

These people who hold an official capacity still may have strong bonds with people in the club. Some athletes who begin media careers after retirement find it hard to make comments about their former club, choosing loyalty to the club rather than the media or their employer.

After his retirement, James Hird, former captain of the AFL club Essendon Bombers, became a regular on Fox Sports’ The Couch. Hird never chose to speak out about rumours surrounding Essendon, making it clear that his loyalty was to his club before the media.

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Hird watched his personal actions and avoided any harm to the club by not making any comments that would cause speculations because he was in a conflict of interest.

Eddie McGuire is the current president of the Collingwood Magpies and television presenter for Channel Nine. McGuire has come under heavy criticism on many occasions when commentating live Collingwood games.

His reputation as a presenter and commentator has become inferior due, to his subjective style of commentary. He has been labelled biased and unintelligent by both viewers and critics.

In 2004, when McGuire was questioned about his silence over an unpleasant incident involving Magpies players, he confessed to the media that his first loyalty is to Collingwood.

McGuire knew about damage caused by Magpies players having a night on the booze but failed to mention it to media. He knew the story but as a presenter told his audience nothing.

McGuire wanted to keep the story under wraps to protect the club’s reputation, but in doing so failed to carry out his duties as a presenter objectively.

People with official capacity at an AFL club should not write or commentate about the club because they will always run into a conflict of interest and decrease their credibility and objectivity within their media role.