‘Passion is not a crime’ is A-League’s rallying call

Mike Tuckerman Columnist

By Mike Tuckerman, Mike Tuckerman is a Roar Expert

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    When you are starting a movement, it helps to come up with a catchy slogan. Australian football fans discovered as much this week when their ‘Passion Is Not A Crime’ hashtag started trending on Twitter.

    What started as a social media reaction to Channel Nine’s coverage of last week’s Sydney derby soon snowballed into genuine anger at the way football is treated by mainstream news outlets.

    Nine’s Facebook page was inundated with hundreds of angry comments from fans exasperated by what they saw as biased coverage of the game.

    There is even talk of fan groups uniting to chant “passion is not a crime” in the stands this weekend and displaying banners to that effect.

    Nine’s report appeared to have had a totemic effect, galvanising fans to unite in condemnation of a style of reporting which has not changed since the days of the National Soccer League.

    And Nine’s response, if you can call it that, suggests there’s a long way to go before these media outlets recognise the growing power of the A-League in this country.

    But in acknowledging the outburst, the joke was almost on football fans.

    “There have been angry responses to a football story we ran over the weekend. In response, our Facebook page has been flooded with “Passion is not a crime” messages,” read a post on Nine’s Facebook page.

    “We take your feedback on board, so take a look at the original story here,” it added – and thus the cycle of angry posts, and more importantly click-throughs, happened all over again.

    There seem to be several issues at work here.

    Firstly, Channel Nine knows that aiming a ‘soccer violence’ story at its predominantly Baby Boomer demographic is an easy way to ensure ratings.

    Don’t forget Nine is in a battle with its commercial rivals to win the six o’clock news timeslot, so mashing together a few titillating shots of chanting fans lobbing flares is generally a quick-fire way of getting easily outraged viewers to tune in.

    The casually dismissive attitude to football fans’ anger also suggests Nine isn’t too concerned by the prospect of losing viewers who quite frankly have no reason to tune into the network in the first place.

    That’s a risky tactic in an era of falling advertising rates but with Nine throwing all of its resources into retaining cricket and NRL broadcast rights, it’s not a surprising one.

    However, the fact so many football fans actually watched the story practically proved Nine’s point for them.

    Quite frankly, the network couldn’t care less whether you’re outraged by their reporting or not – so long as you watch it.

    Nine’s commercial imperative is to win viewers, not Walkley Awards, and the same fans who saw nothing wrong with Les Murray instructing SBS staff not to criticise the World Cup bid are now screaming with rage at Nine’s right to exercise their own editorial policy.

    Only they’re not really screaming at all.

    They’re bashing away at keyboards, just like I’m doing now, and in many cases that’s as far as the protest will go.

    In fact, if as many of these passionate supporters turned up in home ends at the weekend as were willing to leave comments on a Facebook page, the atmosphere inside the grounds would be second-to-none.

    With any luck, the Nine backlash will help convince some of these supporters to step away from their keyboards and into an A-League home end.

    Just as the late Johnny Warren’s “I Told You So” encouraged fans to throw their support behind the national team, so too might “Passion Is Not A Crime” become the rallying call to unite A-League fans.

    But if football fans really want to make a point, they should turn up at a venue. And they can do one more thing en masse.

    Turn off Channel Nine.

    Mike Tuckerman
    Mike Tuckerman

    Mike Tuckerman is a Sydney-born journalist and lifelong football fan. After lengthy stints watching the beautiful game in Germany and Japan, he settled in Brisbane, and has been a leading Roar football columnist from December 2008.

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    The Crowd Says (56)

    • December 21st 2012 @ 9:33am
      Damiano said | December 21st 2012 @ 9:33am | ! Report

      Mike, a well thought out article from you.

      • December 24th 2012 @ 10:22am
        Damiano said | December 24th 2012 @ 10:22am | ! Report

        ^ I’ve been edited above. I made the point it was the first decent article I thought he’d written in a long time. This makes me look like I’m on the Tuckerman bandwagon, if one exist, and I’m not. I think he’s marginally better than Jesse Fink

    • Roar Guru

      December 21st 2012 @ 9:37am
      Fussball ist unser leben said | December 21st 2012 @ 9:37am | ! Report

      “Turn off Channel Nine.”

      That’s been done a long time ago in my house.

      Be under no illusion that Channel 9 is enjoying this publicity. They’re monitoring the Facebook comments very closely & censoring those comments that may have a negative impact on their business.

      In particular, one football fan had left a comment that she was going to start contacting Ch9’s major sponsors & urged others to do the same. That comment was deleted within minutes.

      Controlling “the message” has meant controlling power and such power has been (ab)used by people as diverse as: Egypt’s despot, Mubarak, to the Queen of AUS radio, Alan Jones; from the juvenile cretins on 2DayFM to the geriatric amoralist, Rupert Murdoch.

      But, the 21st century has given “a voice” to every single person on the planet, who has access to the internet. And the voice of Citizen A can reach as many people as the voice of POTUS.

      The whole of Australia is now fully aware who we are and what we are …. WE ARE FOOTBALL.

      • December 21st 2012 @ 12:29pm
        Tim said | December 21st 2012 @ 12:29pm | ! Report

        There’s no real reason to watch any free to air with Foxtel.

        • December 21st 2012 @ 3:46pm
          The Kebab Connoisseur said | December 21st 2012 @ 3:46pm | ! Report

          The only time I watch Ch 9 is for the cricket. Nothing else on there interests me. It is basically 3AW with pictures.

          Their ratings says a lot about Australians viewing habits and our “education system” that they can dish up what they show us and people still watch it.

          I guess the film Idiocracy has come true in Oz.

    • December 21st 2012 @ 9:38am
      Titus said | December 21st 2012 @ 9:38am | ! Report

      I agree Mike, it’s all going a bit far. It was worth pointing out and giving our opinion but it’s time to move on and just keep enjoying the games.

      C9 isn’t worth worrying about, nor is caring about the opinion of anyone who forms it from watching C9.

    • December 21st 2012 @ 10:01am
      Midfielder said | December 21st 2012 @ 10:01am | ! Report

      Dare I say there is another way…..

      Someone publish key Ch nine email;s addresses …. say CEO, Editorial Manager, New & Current Affairs manager…. then the sports desk email…

      The world today works on internet … clog up their communication channels and they find it hard to operate..

      My guess is Eight key email addresses would cause a massive problem… happen with Ch 7 [or was it News] about 3 or 4 years ago…

    • December 21st 2012 @ 10:03am
      Sailosi said | December 21st 2012 @ 10:03am | ! Report

      I love Passion, it’s a word i use all the time. The other day I vomited over a lady sitting next to me at a 20/20 game, I was swearing at players, yelling in front of children. I simply said it was ‘passion’.

      Comment left via The Roar’s iPhone app. Download it now [http://itunes.apple.com/au/app/the-roar/id327174726?mt=8].

      • December 21st 2012 @ 10:07am
        MV Dave said | December 21st 2012 @ 10:07am | ! Report

        So that’s what happens to people get when they receive too many blows to the head playing Ruggers.

        • December 21st 2012 @ 10:29am
          Sailosi said | December 21st 2012 @ 10:29am | ! Report

          I’ve never played ‘ruggers’, merely observed its going on. Passionately might I add.

          • December 21st 2012 @ 10:42am
            CrossIT said | December 21st 2012 @ 10:42am | ! Report

            There must be a bloody lot of passion at junior rugby league matches then.

    • December 21st 2012 @ 10:03am
      MV Dave said | December 21st 2012 @ 10:03am | ! Report

      Well done to the Football supporters who have stood up and made a noise about the pathetic and false ‘Sokkah Riot’ broadcasts…l switched off a long time ago when many of the ‘news stories’ were nothing but cross promotional fluff pieces or the ‘sport’ segments were nothing more than AFL training reports. Wonder what angle Channel Nein Melbourne will be taking for the Derby tomorrow? That is if they bother to mention it even though there will be a sell out 28,000 crowd in attendance.
      Plenty of other sources to gather news…

      • Roar Guru

        December 21st 2012 @ 11:10am
        Redb said | December 21st 2012 @ 11:10am | ! Report

        Your comment seems at odds with this statement:

        “That’s a risky tactic in an era of falling advertising rates but with Nine throwing all of its resources into retaining cricket and NRL broadcast rights, it’s not a surprising one.”

        Ch 9 do not have the AFL rights. What could be their motivation?

        Maybe they cover AFL football in news reports in Melbourne becuase it’s popular. Just guessing.

        • December 21st 2012 @ 11:29am
          Punter said | December 21st 2012 @ 11:29am | ! Report

          I think 28K attending a football match this weekend is also pretty popular & current Redb.

          Missing the point again.

          • December 21st 2012 @ 11:59am
            Adam said | December 21st 2012 @ 11:59am | ! Report

            More importantly, they will get 7k to the BBL, and a sell out at AAMI, but report heavily on the BBL. Not asking for more than BBL, but the A League should be receiving more favourable general coverage than the sweet FA it gets is the point football fans are making.

            • December 21st 2012 @ 3:01pm
              MV Dave said | December 21st 2012 @ 3:01pm | ! Report

              Exactly…thanks Punter and Adam.

        • December 21st 2012 @ 11:41am
          striker said | December 21st 2012 @ 11:41am | ! Report

          Red B all football people want is there fair share of coverage, channel 9 and 7 would rather put the sailing on the sports section than put news from the A-League which is alot of bull.

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