Channel Seven presenter and AFL grand final master of ceremonies Basil Zempilas has once again copped the ire of footy fans around the country.
Jumper taps, coward punches and high elbows – the ugly incidents which have marred the AFL men’s season over the past few weeks only serve to make the women’s competition even more attractive.
That’s not to say aggression and physicality is missing when the women take to the field – it clearly isn’t, with players going in hard and tackling with ferocity.
This year’s inaugural season resulted in several suspensions, including 3 one-match bans as a result of the heady first round.
But in its early stages, the AFL Women’s competition represents what people want from football. Women of all different shapes, sizes and backgrounds competing in a good, honest contest, watched on by a supportive and family-friendly crowd.
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Having experienced two live games in the AFLW – the opening spectacle at Princes Park and a family-friendly carnival-like evening at Whitten Oval – I know which game I prefer to attend. The crowds included more families, more women and more girls. The comparison to an AFL men’s game is stark.
Sure, I still like watching my Bombers play – and win – but now I’m more inclined to want to watch it from the couch.
I attended the pre-season game between the Bombers and arch-rival Collingwood, and it was great seeing the boys run out for the first time in front of the long-suffering supporter base. But the level of vitriol and aggression directed at the players and umpires from both lots of supporters was completely out of proportion for a game that was merely a training run.
We all enjoy special comments from the crowd but we don’t need the nastiness, and we don’t need to see it acted out on the field either. Hits off the ball, pushes into the goal posts and blatant targeting of players don’t belong in the game.
Going to the football can still be an enjoyable experience. The buzz and roar of a game at Adelaide Oval can’t be replicated, and of course seeing a game at the MCG is always special.
But for families or groups of girls and women looking to watch football in a relaxed environment without having to deal with abusive fans or seeing an assault on-field, then the women’s game is going to win out.