Sunday, 29 September 2013



On a typical Melbourne Spring day - with four seasons in one - 100,007 people, braving the rain and the sun, the cold and the heat, the wind and the calm, rocked up to the Melbourne Cricket Ground for the AFL Grand Final between the favourites, Hawthorn, and the in-form challengers from Western Australia, Fremantle.

   It was a tough, dour struggle between two tough, dour sides – so the spectacle of exciting skills and typical free flowing Aussie Rules matches was decidedly lacking. Even so, it was an engrossing battle where either side could have won the match with five minutes to go. When the final siren went, Hawthorn was the victor by 15 points.

   It seemed that the young Freo side suffered from Grand Final jitters, especially early on in the game when they messed up relatively easy scoring opportunities. Maybe 2014 will be their year?

   So, another season of football draws to an end and us footy fanatics go into hibernation over the next five months, occasionally being distracted and entertained by tennis, motor racing, golf, or if you’re really desperate – cricket. I for one, find the latter as interesting as watching grass grow – but that’s just me.

   It hasn’t been a great year for Australian Rules Football, with one football club dominating the headlines since February for all the wrong reasons. Essendon Football club didn’t cover itself in glory and brought the game into disrepute by, at the very least, showing a total disregard of its players' welfare by allowing shonky sports scientists and biochemists to use their players as guinea-pigs in order to maximise performance through the injections of yet-to-be revealed performance-enhancing substances.

   The denials, cover-up and blame-game perpetrated by the club when things hit the fan left a bad taste in everyone’s mouths. The AFL Commission, to its credit, came up with a reasonable set of penalties which were accepted by Essendon only a couple of weeks before the finals – so the football season ended on a high note.

   As for Essendon, it still has to sweat out the final findings of ASADA, the Australian arm of the World Anti-Doping Agency. So, there may be more revelations and penalties yet to come.   

   Apart from this blight on Aussie Rules, rugby league is also up to its ears in illicit performance drug scandals. Meanwhile, local soccer has been implicated in an international match-fixing/betting scandal. As for cricket, it’s already been up to its ears in match-fixing scandals at World Cup level, resulting in some of the Pakistani test team serving gaol sentences. And dare I even mention cycling (good one, Lance!) and some members of the Jamaican athletics team as well as a high profile USA sprinter?  

   Is there no such thing as a “clean” sport anymore, or has professionalism, the dirty dollar and corruption irretrievably contaminated everything?

   Let’s hope not.

    Let’s hope the appropriate authorities within each sport and the law-enforcement bodies quickly get on top of these situations so that our young athletes are not corrupted and duped into lining the pockets of the unscrupulous and our sports are untainted by crooks and win-at-all costs merchants.

   Lovers of sport unite! Let’s take a stand against the cheats, crooks and corruptors. Let’s follow the lead from the late Peter Finch movie, “Network”, and declare, “We’ve had enough! We’re not going to take anymore!

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