Archive for the ‘AFL’ Category

Dear Sport, sincerely, confused blogger

Dear Sport,

I’ve been watching, reading, listening to and generally just been around you a lot for the past few weeks, and I think it might be time for a break.

Rest assured, it’s not you. It’s me. Well it is you really, but it’s more the effect that your actions have had on me, and so therefore we can sort of pretend that it’s just me being emotional. Right? If not you can go get stuffed.

But before you go all Kanye West on me, I’m actually going to finish what I have to say. Frankly sport, you’re performances recently have been far from the best video, sorry, performances of all time.

I’m confused, Sport. I’m confused both mentally and sexually.

First you tell me that the Melbourne Demons are copping a half a million dollar fine for tanking, but they actually didn’t tank. They just intended to tank, and tanked in a premeditated way, but on the field they actually didn’t tank. That was confusing and just plain linguistically irresponsible Sport. At the time I didn’t know if I could forgive you, but I have and I’ve since moved on.

Then you tell me that the Sharks are in trouble, Sport. You tell me that they’ve contravened some code that no one really seems to know anything about. What’s more, it seems that the people who are supposed to be protected by said code actually don’t care, and just defer to the guy (or girl) with the syringe in some sort of zealous act of faith in club protocol and spirit.

“These people mean me no harm, they’re just doing their best to make sure I’m more hormone than human.” This attitude confuses me, Sport. Why don’t you tell those who play you they’re doing something wrong? Or at least tell the people who have been doing it to come forward and admit they’ve done something wrong. Or maybe those who administered the drugs? Or maybe those who oversaw the systematic cheating of the drug laws to show an ounce of courage and admit they made a mistake?

No? That’s too much to ask for? Well what about the dudes who’ve been on the case of this four two years? Can’t they just come out and tell us whodunnit? No? Even that’s too much to ask for. Well gee, Sport, I thought we were closer than that. I just… don’t really know what to say.

And that wasn’t even the end of it, Sport. Last of all you tell me that cricketers have homework? They actually have to write things down? I don’t know where you come from, Sport, but when I want to get better at something I don’t just sit down and write about it (except for writing, ironically). Surely making them jump through some flaming hoops or running on the heads of man-eating crocodiles would be far more effective for physical specimens like Shane Watson than writing ways that the Aussies can improve in India.

In fact, I actually did Shane Watson’s homework. And James Pattinson’s. I didn’t do Khawaja and Johnson’s homework, I don’t really care for them too much… But here it is! Sorry it’s late:

Score more runs.
Take more wickets.
Field better.

See? All done? Amazing right? Who knew, it just got lost somewhere in the WordPress ether. Can they play in the third Test now, Sport? Pretty please?

Well, if that’s really the attitude you’re going to take, Sport, I don’t really know where this can go.

I just… I just…

What Australian dopers should learn from Lance Armstrong

I noticed in Peter FitzSimons’ column in the Sydney Morning Herald today he refers to Lance Armstrong as “the most infamous drug cheat in international sporting history.”

Now we all know Peter has never really gone soft on Lance, but his unrestrained appraisals of the former cycling champ have most definitely been ratified by the evidence. FitzSimons jocular surprise of the comparison of Lance’s systematic approach to doping his entire US Postal (among others) cycling team to the bombshell that was dropped yesterday about systematic doping, corruption and the potential for match-fixing in Australian sport is also worthy of note, insinuating he suspected a seedy underbelly to the glitz, glamour and nasal accents of Australian sport too.

Whatever we make of his timing and judgement is irrelevant. What is worthy of note is that he picked up on the Justice minister Jason Clare’s comparison to Lance’s doping efforts. The most interesting question that this raises in my eyes, however, is simply “how low does it go?” but rather one of “what can athletes learn from the bad man Lance?”

Appropriate to his crime, Lance is a fallen angel, a veritable Azmodeus in today’s sporting landscape; an example not to follow. But also, in my view, an example to be learned from. For every drug cheat that is caught and sanctioned, lessons must be learned and action must be taken. This applies not only to the people investigating and testing for the crimes (used in a loose sense), but also those loading up their veins, and stomachs, and whatever else, with the gear.

Lance Armstrong could and would have saved himself months of ignominy had he only fronted up, fessed up, told the truth and got that monkey, that cost him so much of his life and so much of what he could have had, off his back. Imagine the weight that would have been lifted off his shoulders when he uttered those words to Oprah. All the years of bickering, fighting, lawsuits and lying to yourself and everyone else, gone. Of course in Lance’s case it was replaced by yet more bickering and yet more lawsuits, but that was for one reason and one reason only:

He didn’t tell us the truth in the first place!

Had he done that, we wouldn’t have had to watch Oprah at all, and we all would have known years ago that Lance was as drugged and dirty as a pillhead sleeping in a Kings Cross dumpster. At least the pillhead, acknowledging he went too far, can go home and have a shower. But when you sleep in a dumpster for too long, the smell doesn’t come off so quickly. You could say the monkey on Lance’s back quickly grew into an Orang-utan, and was the size of a Silverback Gorilla by the time he actually told Oprah what he really did to be the best.

"If you did cheat, the silverback Gorilla will find you. He will hunt you down and kill you," said Sports minister Kate Lundy yesterday. Or something like that

“If you did cheat, the silverback Gorilla will find you. He will hunt you down and kill you,” said Sports minister Kate Lundy yesterday. Or something like that

So what are you getting at, Patrick? What’s with all this bullshit about people taking ecstasy and EPO and performance enhancing drugs (PEDs?) and PIEDS and whatever other acronyms we can think of?

Well, I humbly submit to those who have knowingly, unknowingly, or partially knowingly participated in this nastiness come forward and save yourself the persecution; because the lesson to learn from the biggest story ever about drugs in sport is that the longer you wait, the worse it gets.

You can hold on and not get caught, but look at what happened to those who do come forward.

Tyler Hamilton, who in his peak had more growth hormone pumping around him than a 15 year-old boy sired by Luke Longley and Lauren Jackson, now champions the cause for a cleaner sport of cycling and was a key witness in exposing Armstrong’s cheating. You might even say he was a fallen angel who finally returned back to the right side. People seem to like Tyler, respect his courage and place less weight on his cheating as a result of his confession.

Now whether we should judge Tyler less harshly because he came forward is another thing altogether, but so far that seems to be the trend. The Sports Minister, Kate Lundy, said it yesterday:

“I say to those athletes – ‘Come forward… come clean and be part of the solution, not part of an ongoing problem.’ I would think they should do it as soon as possible… investigations are already under way, so it is possible for people to come forward now.”

Sound advice, I would think.

The minister also mentioned the possibility of reduced sanctions and the potential for leniency for confessors. It’s more than they deserve, but it may prompt people into considering it.

So come forth, those who sought to gain advantage by illicit means. For the good of Australian sport, come forth, and unsully those veins. The law will welcome you with open arms and (possibly) reduce your sentence.

You mightn’t deserve it, but if you do manage to grow some balls back (it might take some time) it’ll save you a whole lot of pain.

Obituary for my favourite coach

When a true great of the game finally leaves, especially when he is pushed, there is bound to be controversy, backlash and puff pieces. In the case of Nathan Hindmarsh there can be comebacks before he has even retired. But it is not this Nathan we discuss today. In fact, we are not discussing a Nathan at all

It is with great sadness that I post this news… Matthew Primus, former coach of the Port Adelaide Power, has fallen victim to his own success and ingenuity.

Fondly known by followers of this blog (including my dog and a mate of mine who lives in a different country), Matthew “Optimus” Primus proved himself to be a trailblazer in not one, not two, not three, not four, not five, not eight, but seven ways. All seven of these ways include appointing captains for a fixture. Seven captains, unsurprisingly.

Apparently the decision to boot the “The Transformer” was prompted by their loss to the Greater Western Sydney Giants, the Power board moved quickly to rid themselves of anything to do with the loss. The coach goes, the president goes, half the players will probably go, and the board remains safe. We all know, after all, that it is a board that makes a football club.

It seemed like a hasty move, in light of GWS coach Kevin Sheedy’s comments recently that they are the best AFL side ever to don a pair of short shorts and we-have-massive-ceps singlets, and that their poster boy Israel Folau is the best AFL player ever to pose for the camera.

In reality the move to decomission the leader of the Autobots proves only that the Power board should be unplugged. The lack of leadership for the Power will now come into question, with a distinct lack of candidates to replace the slayer of all them baddie robots.

We all know that Jazz was ripped apart by Megatron in the first movie and that Ironhide and Ratchet just don’t have it in them to lead a team back from the depths of failure. And don’t get me started on Shia Labeouf. The fact that Michael Bay expects me to believe that that puny little human can defeat Starscream single handedly is insulting to sports fans.

This does not beg the question as there is no argument where the question is being begged, but instead poses it: why was he fired? There is little doubt that Primus was the best coach in the AFL. He clearly had the best name, being the most akin to a popular brand of childrens’ toy. What’s more, the audacity he showed to name seven captains for one fixture is the most groundbreaking development in coaching since the clipboard. This decision led to some of the most read pieces of sports journalism in history. Such is the legacy.

The AFL is poorer for not having Primus among its coaching ranks. I’m not saying I ever watched a Port Adelaide game while he was in charge, or ever heard him talk, but I do know he will go down as the greatest, most successful and most handsome man ever to fill out a team sheet or run handpassing drills.

Vale Optimus, you and the potential for jokes about your name will be missed.

Raiders name seventeen captains, ARL Commission praises “innovation”

Following in the footsteps of Port Adelaide coach Matthew Primus, the Canberra Raiders have named seventeen captains for this week’s fixture against the Dragons.

Hoping to further press the Green Machine’s advantage over the Dragons, a team they have defeated in twelve of the last thirteen meetings, coach David Furner said that having seventeen captains would ensure there was stronger leadership across the paddock.

“I think in the past we have been guilty of not having enough leaders in the team. By bestowing the captaincy upon all seventeen, I think that really gives us the best opportunity to showcase our captaincy skills as a unit, and as we all know, too many cooks spoil the broth,” Furner said.

Dragons captain Ben Hornby, visibly scared after hearing the news, said: “If the Raiders think they can intimidate us by selecting their entire team as captain then they are absolutely right.

“Since hearing the news the boys have prepared terribly, and are regretting our choice to play professional football at this point.

“I am curious to see how the toss will work though.”

Furner failed to answer questions about how seventeen men can feasibly toss a coin, which has only fuelled speculation from the game’s top thinkers. So far, the pundits have suggested a ‘best of seventeen’ coin toss, in which every Raiders captain tosses one coin for Ben Hornby to call. It’s sort of like two up, but not really.

In what was a rather confusing press conference, Furner also related his controversial yet canny decision back to the ubiquitous and largely imaginative fight against the marauding hosts of AFL folk from south of the Murray.

“I really feel that this is an area that the AFL has been making significant gains on us for a long time, and just like in Western Sydney, I think it’s time we took the fight to them.”

The coaching masterstroke has been praised universally by AFL coaches and players alike. Trailblazing Port Adelaide coach Matthew ‘Optimus’ Primus admitted that he didn’t know it was possible to pick more than seven captains.

When asked about Furner’s decision, Primus said: “I’m aware that our footy club has long been a leader in this field, and we have been proud of the role our footy club played in that.

“But honestly, I think what Don Fervid has done at the Raiders other-type-of-footy club is revolutionary.

“Sometimes you just have to sit back and realise that sometimes people at other footy clubs  just have better ideas than you, and the only person we can really thank for these ideas is baby Jesus.”

NSW Origin coach Ricky Stuart has reportedly considered following in Furner’s footsteps, conceding that “not having enough captains” has been the largest and possibly the only factor in NSW’s failure to win anything in any form of sport, ever.

When quizzed on whether he would name injured backrower Glenn Stewart as an ‘eighteenth captain’ were he not to take the field on Wednesday, namesake Ricky replied: “Look, captaincy of injured squads is something we’ve been experimenting with. At this stage maintaining that level of leadership off the field while the rest of the squad is actually playing Origin Football seems crucial to our success.”

In other relatively related news, NSW have named Jamie Buhrer, Trent Merrin and Jamie Soward as captains of dumped players from the last few series, and the Maroons have named Chris Sandow, Ashley Graham, Scott Bolton and Sam Kasiano as captains of those who haven’t played Origin Football yet, but may do so in the future.

Stand, spray and deliver.

Critiques from the arm chair