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Outrage is ruining our game

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Expert
19th May, 2019
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Tom Boyd announced his retirement last week at age 23, effective immediately.

There was a mixed response to the news.

Many fans were thankful for his unforgettable fortnight in the final two weeks of the 2016 season that won the Western Bulldogs a second flag.

Others wished him nothing but success in his future endeavours.

Too many people were outraged at his decision to walk away from AFL after 61 games, especially after all the Bulldogs did to lure him over from the Giants.

Those people forgot to read beyond the tweet that accompanied the Bulldogs’ press release.

It read, “The physical and emotional toll of AFL football has led Tom Boyd to the decision to immediately retire from the game.”

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Boyd said, “My decision to retire now is a reflection of issues I’ve had over the past five years both with physical injury and with mental health, and they have now accumulated to a point where I just don’t have the desire to play or the enjoyment of the game I used to have.”

Since winning the 2016 premiership, the Dogs have virtually fallen off the AFL radar, largely due to injury but also because they seem to have lost the spark and enthusiasm that led them to the flag.

And too many people seem to think that has fallen on Boyd’s shoulders to the point where his mental health is so bad he is walking away from the game.

His talent is a great loss, and it’s even sadder that we are constantly letting outrage beat out the best this game has to offer.

Only on Thursday afternoon, after Boyd made the decision to retire, did we decide to replay his highlight packages from the preliminary and grand final of 2016.

tom-boyd-western-bulldogs-afl-2016-grand-final

(AAP Image/Julian Smith)

There is a simple reason why outrage wins every time.

Negativity sells.

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We claim to hate it, yet we feed the beast at the same time.

Outrage is ruining the AFL.

The poor state of the game doesn’t solely lie on the quality of play or the lack of goal-kicking; we are choosing to constantly talk about and highlight the worst parts of the sport and dismiss the rest.

Last week was dominated by Dane Rampe and his bizarre decision to climb the behind post in an attempt to put off Essendon’s David Myers, who was kicking for victory after the siren against Sydney last Friday night.

Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you will know that every discussion, every tweet, every expert and every fan’s comments have been driven by the Dane Rampe incident the entire week.

Bizarre? Yes.

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But does it call for extreme outrage and over-analysis that took over the whole week? Probably not.

A close second to the outrage over Rampe’s actions was outrage over the match review officer’s decision to not suspend Geelong’s Gary Ablett or Fremantle’s Nat Fyfe for throwing elbows at opposition players.

Also a worthy discussion point, but the anger and outrage over something that wasn’t going to be overturned hit new levels.

The outrage comes from a reasonable place – one of concern for the integrity of the game, demanding transparency from higher authorities around how we reach certain conclusions over another.

The Rampe case is a brilliant example.

The umpire on the evening gave it the all clear and he received support from AFL CEO Gillon McLachlan the following day on radio.

And within 24 hours of Rampe and the Sydney Swans were issued a please explain for his actions.

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Amazing to think that a little communication could’ve saved the headache and week of back and fourth – communication for the AFL’s behalf and ours.

Outrage and meltdowns aren’t achieving anything and there needs to be a way for clearer communication between higher authorities, clubs, players and fans.

I’m not suggesting we dismiss these things, but the outrage grew so big that it took focus away from some of the most important and most amazing things in football on the weekend.

Gillon McLachlan AFL 2017

(AAP Image/Tracey Nearmy)

What we should’ve been talking about in great depth is what happened at the MCG the following day.

Another fight broke out at the conclusion of Collingwood’s clash with Carlton and resulted in a number of fans sentenced to a five-year ban.

That was the important issue of the week.

Not Dane Rampe’s decision to climb a behind post, nor Gary Ablett recieving the all clear from the MRO.

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The issue that is threatening the safety of fans week in and week out should’ve been on the top of the agenda and discussed in great depth over the week.

And every week it may unfortunately occur.

But hopefully with more airtime and more discussion focused on these issues we will see harsher penalties like what was handed down this week to phase it out of the game.

The outrage also overshadowed the incredible act of kindness and sportsmanship displayed by Hawthorn veteran Jarryd Roughead.

Playing against Footscray in the VFL last Sunday afternoon, his opponent Reuben Williams took the opportunity to ask the great man for a mini masterclass during the game.

It was such a special moment that barely got its time in the sun following the conclusion of Sunday’s game.

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And what about this great grassroots moment? I had no idea this occurred until a fellow tweeter showed it to me five days following the event.

And what can we expect in the week ahead?

Liam Ryan’s spectacular mark overshadowed by teammate Nathan Vardy’s poor decision making?

Our sport is special.

It boasts moments of brilliance, heartache, disappointment, joy and everything in between.

We shouldn’t let outrage and anger get in the way of appreciating our game and everything it has to offer.

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Simply embrace it.

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