The Roar
The Roar


Why does push come to shove?

Alex Rance, the Tigers' true superstar. (Photo: Justine Walker/AFL Media)
Roar Pro
27th April, 2016

I need to preface this article with the following statement: I am not a pacifist.

To prove it, here are a list of things that would be met with the violent kneecap of the law if I had my way.

Umbrellas that are wider than the user’s head, the production and consumption of mushrooms, neckties, Michael beating me in table tennis, spiritual enlightenment, humility, laws of any kind, kneecaps, non-pacifists, lists, article prefaces, public displays of affection, wearing hats indoors, wearing hats backwards, wearing any type of hat that isn’t wide brimmed (and only for sun protection) and Michael’s table tennis style (every shot loops into the middle of the table).

I’m glad that’s been cleared up.

So, here’s something I’ve been thinking about recently. What’s the point in the pushing, shoving, scrapping, harassing and pinching which occurs before, and throughout, a football game?

Two guys will stand toe-to-toe, perhaps nod their heads in acknowledgement of one another, and then start sort of innocuously knocking into each other off the ball.

Maybe it is to assert some sort of dominance, display some false bravado and add that extra bit of masculinity. More likely, it’s probably an attempt to put the other player off their game (which seems counterproductive). It doesn’t seem as if any player really enjoys it.

Are the bruises really worth it? The inability to sit against a wall or on a chair, the pain that shoots down your side because a defender hit your ribs with the tip of his elbow. Can you blame him? You probably hit him first!

Does the crowd enjoy the niggling? Is there really any tangible benefit that comes from it? Do patrons attend games so they can see their favourite backman antagonise a key forward?


Is it something the AFL encourages? Is there a clause scribbled in Cain Ackland’s contract which says that he must bump into Fabian Deluca a requisite number of times before he receives that extension?

It’s probably coached in the game because it is what the coaches did in their halcyon days. Their justification probably comes from that famous passage which probably isn’t in The Art of War.

“If you don’t nudge first, they will.”

Well, I know you are but what am I?

Perhaps the constant tussling is an entrenched by-product of the game. Players have probably been doing it since the inception of this weird and unruly sport. It’s a fundamental part of their programming.

Yep, that’s what I reckon it is about. Tradition.

Well, as a key stakeholder of the AFL Players Association, with the welfare of Carlton players close to my heart, enough I say!

The pugnaciousness, the constant fracas, it must stop. How can we expect to solve our geopolitical problems if our heroes won’t stop pushing each other unnecessarily?


Mainly, though, it just looks a bit silly.