Apparently the AFL is rapidly becoming a police state.
Apparently passionate footy fans are being persecuted for their enthusiasm, harassed and ejected from games purely for engaging in good-natured banter and exercising their God-given right to question umpires’ parentage and/or species.
While I enjoy a good brouhaha as much as the next fellow, and I appreciate how great a relief it is when we are talking about anythin’ but what’s happening on the field – which to all true AFL fans is of very little interest – I have found myself strangely unable to summon very much umbrage when it comes to the authorities’ brutal crackdown on innocent fandom.
It’s hard to say why. Maybe it’s because I’m jaded. Maybe it’s because I’ve seen so many causes fought and lost that I fear the pain of seeing another crusade fail. Maybe it’s because most fans at football games are wankers.
Yes. Yes I think it might be that last one, chiefly.
Look. I agree it’s every person’s right to be a wanker. And it’s not just fans at football games. Fans at cricket games and basketball games and rugby games and… Let’s just cut to the chase and be clear: either live sport attracts wankers in disproportionate numbers, or the atmosphere of live sport has a tendency to bring out one’s inner wanker.
Either way, there’s wankers left right and centre.
I love going to the football, but it’s a trade-off: the excitement of being up close to the action is just about enough to compensate for the horrible company of my repellent fellow human beings.
The way they bellow obscenities three feet away from my children. The way they scream “Get up you dog!” at badly injured players. The way they boo incessantly at people who have committed the unforgivable sin of not playing for the booer’s team.
The way they express near-psychotic strength of opinion on a game the rules of which they have only a passing acquaintance with. The way they spill beer on you.
And, yes, the way they abuse umpires. Or referees, or whatever match officials are present.
I recognise that calling an umpire a maggot is a time-honoured tradition and integral to the experience of watching footy for that large segment of the footy-watching community who don’t seem to like watching footy very much, judging from how easily their enjoyment can be spoilt by the prevention of abuse.
But lots of things were time-honoured traditions, once upon a time. Bareknuckle boxing. Burning witches. Racism. And so on. We can get over it.
Not that we have to. Because really, the supposed draconian crackdown on fans is just a few cases of loudmouthed guys getting told to pull their heads in because they’re ruining it for everyone else.
And I’m sure they’ll not stop for long anyway. People are going to keep booing and keep yelling abuse and keep calling umpires names because they made a mistake, something the average football fan is convinced they do on purpose for no other reason than that it gives them a kick to ruin the hopes and dreams of the working class.
And that’s fine, I guess. I don’t actually want a ban on wankers at the footy. While there’s always a point at which it can go too far, I’m prepared to live with obnoxious people making the game less enjoyable by their boorishness. The AFL isn’t becoming a police state, but neither do I think it should.
But if you are carrying on like a prize tool at a game, and you feel like security or the cops have been too harsh when they come round to tell you to zip it…well, I just have no sympathy. Because the fact you have a right to be a wanker doesn’t mean you should, and if being dragged off by the cops ruins your night out, now you know how I feel whenever you open your big fat mouth.