I don’t accept the argument that the media is to blame for the Jordan De Goey’s $25,000 (though suspended) fine in response to filmed efforts of him seeking to expose a women’s breast, nor do I agree with those who state that Collingwood did not go far enough in their punishment.
While De Goey should not have been suspended, as no crime was committed and the girl involved hardly appeared offended, Collingwood had no choice.
After first making a public statement pointing to “the relentless pursuit and persecution of athletes by the media”, De Goey later stated: “I unreservedly apologise to the Collingwood Football Club, its members, supporters and the wider community for my conduct in Bali and I accept full responsibility for my actions.”
I would suggest that Collingwood’s actions did indeed find an appropriate middle ground, although a smaller, immediate fine could have been implemented.
However, if it is indeed the case that Collingwood let him go to Bali, the club set itself up for a potentially difficult situation given De Goey’s track record.
The AFL, its clubs, corporate sponsors and the media are all the same.
They merely react to the changing demands of Australian society, where attention to equality issues cannot be ignored.
While I am not sure what the general public think about the De Goey incident, with all of the women I asked believing that he should not have been suspended, those who do have influence promoting gender issues in recent times have had a profound effect in terms of also influencing the AFL, its clubs, corporate sponsors and the media.
That is why Collingwood CEO Mark Anderson, supported by a similar AFL statement, declared: “Our club’s very strong position is that disrespect towards women, in any form, is never acceptable and we strongly condemn it… Jordan’s actions shown in the vision shared on social media are actions we do not accept as a football club, and we are extremely disappointed to see him put himself in this position.”
But the media has always sought to maximise its audience by promoting controversial stories.
Aussie Rules football, being arguably Australia’s most popular sport, will always generate high levels of interest with any story exposing and promoting a controversy. But it is wrong to suggest media figures went out of their way to assassinate De Goey just to promote their self-importance.
Football commentators are also influenced by public debates with attitudes changing greatly from the past, notably on issues concerning gender and race.
In a free society, where virtually everyone carries a camera via their phone, it is inevitable that the press will take up opportunities to expose potential controversy for the famous.
The football public had every right to be informed by the media about certain off-field incidents, including the Steven May-Jake Melksham fight and the Bailey Smith scandal, which resulted in a two-week ban from the AFL.
It does not really matter what any ex-footballer did or got away with in the days when there was no social media.
The reality is that the use of social media does expose incidents where the public may have an interest.
Given that the AFL has around 800 footballers in the 18 clubs, the majority will not do anything controversial that would be of interest to the public beyond analysis of their football performance.
So, is it fair to scrutinise the few wild boys?
Yes, it is.
Sex, racism and violence will always generate interest, especially when they involve big names.
This does not mean that I accuse the perceived wild men of AFL, like De Goey, as seeking fame, money and girls that may get them into trouble.
It may well be that fame and glory merely created opportunities and situations for some footballers that would not have been as possible if they were more ordinary.
They are young men who ultimately choose a different way to enjoy their lives – albeit breaking the law should not ever occur.
And any wild man will find it hard to escape their pattern of behaviour.
To some degree, as a late teen going nowhere getting drunk most weekends and doing some dodgy things I am not proud of today, I was lucky that I decided to make a clean break from my fun friends to get into strength and athletics training, which ultimately put discipline in my life to enable me to enter long-term relationships and even get a tertiary education.
De Goey clearly enjoys party life, and he may indeed remain a rogue who will fail to meet Collingwood’s demands, thus proving costly in terms of his future football earnings, given no club may want him.
A professional sporting club has to be seen to act in line with social standards.
While Collingwood has acted, as I mentioned earlier, it is important a football club is consistent.
I, for one, don’t want to see the well-paid wild men given preference over other lesser players who may be quickly discarded for similar offences.
Logic tells you that different punishments for different players, based on their abilities, is not good for team morale, regardless of their premiership chances.
At that same time, a professional club has to be reasonable. The Bali incident is clearly nothing compared to the New York incident.
Collingwood will now hopefully seek new contract negotiations with De Goey on a last-chance basis, with caveats that De Goey hopefully embraces with a determination to maximise his playing days at a club currently aided by his talent.
If the club is to minimise adverse publicity about future incidents, with young Collingwood players Jack Ginnivan and Isaac Quaynor also apologising this week for their actions, then it is important that any club spells out to all players what is expected of them – perhaps even putting clauses in their contracts.
But rather than blaming the media for exposing Jordan De Goey’s behaviour in Bali as if he did nothing wrong, with others accusing Collingwood of not being tough enough, the eventual solution by the club was difficult but necessary, given that publicity is hardly likely to go away.