Yesterday the AFL stood down Crows assistant coach Ben Hart until June 22 and handed down a suspended one-match sanction to 16 Adelaide players. This punishment is sound.
What was found in the investigation was that for a period of eight minutes per drill, eight Crows players participated in a group kicking drill, while the other eight Crows participated in a running drill in pairs, before swapping.
Media surrounding the AFL has taken a harsh approach, with calls for the Crows to be docked four premiership points and sanctioned through the draft.
These are ludicrous suggestions for what was an “honest mistake”, according to the South Australia Police Commissioner.
Last week it was reported that the Crows were not going to face any sanctions from South Australian police, with the Commissioner saying that they were being “dealt with by providing advice and education”.
Clearly the constabulary are exercising a common-sense approach, realising that eight players participating in an eight-minute drill warrants an education process, rather than sanctions.
To suggest that the Crows were attempting to gain an advantage by completing an eight-minute kicking drill should be completely discounted – there are much better ways to get one over the competition.
The punishment handed down was appropriate as it did not unnecessarily punish the players, and it held Hart accountable, given he was in charge.
The breach was against the AFL rule of only training in pairs, so it was appropriate that Hart was suspended, as he should not have authorised the group drill. However, this is where the punishment ends, as proven by strong AFL leadership.
If it were a prominent Melbourne-based club who had done the same thing, it would be interesting to see the shoe on the other foot. The media’s reaction would probably be to use common sense and realise that no advantage was gained from such a breach.
With over 1800 accredited journalists in the AFL (some would be stood down), these journalists do not currently have a lot to report on, so minor issues are being blown out of proportion.
When footy is back, everyone will have forgotten about this and we will be enjoying the game we all love.