The Roar
The Roar

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Were the fans right to boo Jobe?

Expert
3rd July, 2013
55
1412 Reads

It has been fascinating to watch and listen to all the feedback and general outcry over the booing of Essendon captain Jobe Watson a week ago in Perth.

For those either without an interest in AFL, or who have been residing in a cave, the reigning Brownlow Medal winner was booed every time he touched the ball against the West Coast Eagles, just three days after he controversially made the admission he took a drug he believed to be AOD-9604.

The substance has since been confirmed as banned under anti-doping rules.

Those who booed have been labelled as petty, moronic, childish, and disgusting, and they are just a few descriptions which can be printed.

In a nutshell, the general consensus was it was a pathetic thing to do.

Players from rival teams have all been asked their thoughts about the matter when their media duties have arisen this week, and each has said how shocked they were, most adding it was totally uncalled for.

And perhaps it was. Until the full investigation into Essendon is completed, and fault and penalties are dished out, we should not be acting as judge and jury just yet.

Seeing the emotionally-drained look on Watson’s face at the end of the match, you couldn’t help but feel for what he had just endured.

Was it childish, petty, moronic, and disgusting? Possibly.

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But wasn’t it also part of football, part sport, and part of what you are entitled to do when you pay your money to go throw the gate at the ground and support your team?

And isn’t part of that support doing whatever you might think is helpful in getting your team the win, of course within the rules, and without the use of foul language or racist, inappropriate taunts.

Everyone screams ‘ball’ in the hope of getting ‘their’ team a free kick, and if unsuccessful, doesn’t the umpire – who can no longer be called a white maggot – cop a gobful or boos or colourful language?

And who hasn’t screamed at or booed an opponent?

I am in no way saying I approve of, or condone what was done by Eagles’ fans, what I am saying is surely it is their right to boo, regardless of how childish or moronic or petty or disgusting, others may consider it.

I wonder if this would be viewed differently if it wasn’t Jobe Watson, one of the most likeable guys in the AFL.

There didn’t seem to be too much outcry when Tom Scully was booed every time he went near the ball when he played against his old club the Demons at the MCG last year.

And, unless you’re a Dockers’ supporter, would you be concerned if Hayden Ballantyne or Ryan Crowley were jeered with every possession they had?

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And what about the man who last year was nominated as the most hated in the AFL, Stephen Milne. Even before all his current problems aside, would anyone have done anything but snigger if he was booed with each touch?

And didn’t Brendan Fevola and Barry Hall, and even Wayne Carey, cop the brunt of opposition supporters when they played on the road?

I know, I can hear you … but Jobe’s a nice guy, who didn’t deserve it, as he hasn’t been found guilty of anything, apart from being open and honest on a TV show. Jobe was the target last Thursday, but were fans really booing the way the entire thing has been handled, which included whether or not he should have been playing at all after his admission?

The irony is that while the booing was supposed to put more pressure on Watson, and subsequently put him off his game, it didn’t go close to working. But I guess once you start something like that, it would have looked a bit lame stopping the booing in the third quarter.

Are we just being a bit precious about all this? A bit thin-skinned?

It was interesting to listen to NBA star Andrew Bogut talking about the subject on Fox Sports’ The Back Page this week.

Bogut, a passionate Essendon fan, was asked his thoughts of the Eagles’ fans booing his team’s skipper.

Bogut said that if he goes to another arena and doesn’t get booed by opposition fans, he must be doing something wrong.

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Maybe we’re not used to it here in the AFL. Or maybe, we’re just not used to good guys getting booed.

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