Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Oh When The Saints Go Marching In

I read an article in the paper today (can’t find it online) about how gay men in elite sports are highly reluctant to ‘come out’ as it would diminish their earning capacity, interrupt their careers (because the spotlight would be on their sexuality, not their sporting prowess), elevate them to being gay spokespeople (which is not why they play sport) and result in barrages of abuse from Neanderthal poof-bashin’ fans. One elite sportsman who has come out said that he knows of many gay elite sportsmen, none of whom will come out publically. He went on to say (and I paraphrase) that so-called evil organizations such as banks and mining companies have sorted all this out (gay employees in Western society these days are not only protected legislatively, they also largely don’t need protection ‘cos most of us don’t give a shit whether someone is gay or not), and yet sporting organizations are dragging their knuckles on the issue.

But, yesterday’s Andrew Lovett thing did make me proud of the AFL.

Andrew Lovett, a very talented player (with one of the best running actions I have ever seen) has been sacked from his new team St Kilda. At his old team Essendon he was in some trouble for bashing his missus and some other alcohol-related incidents. Despite his talent, they got rid of him and the Saints picked him up late last year. Minutes after being recruited, he was under investigation for rape, and had some further alcohol-related problems (missing training etc.) The club suspended him indefinitely and the player got some legal help. His argument, which is fair, was that he was yet to be charged with anything and therefore should not be prevented from training with the team - you know, restriction of trade sort of stuff. Playing for a team is a job, and he argued, reasonably, that his earnings would be affected if not allowed to train with the team (because he wouldn’t be selected in the side, thus, he wouldn't be eligible for performance bonuses).

He was officially charged with rape yesterday and the club duly sacked him, even though he, as the adage goes, is innocent before being proven guilty. Reading through the fine print, the club seems to be saying it is not because of the rape charge… but of course, it is. They know it and we know it.

The story warms my heart a little. Sporting clubs don’t have to sack players who are potentially rapists, but, St. Kilda just did. I’m glad they did it. St. Kilda didn’t handle it too well when a few years ago a rape charge against two of their players (Milne and Montagna) was dropped due to lack of evidence… the support they gave their players in that instance was ‘sporting’, I suppose, but left a sour taste in the wider community's mouths. Likewise, the Adelaide Crows last year were a bit soft on Nathan Bock, arrested for bashing his missus, when they suspended him indefinitely from the team (the ‘indefinite’ period ended up being one solitary week).

Of course, the more lateral and logical thinking people (Boogeyman?) in this world will see a greater problem in that it opens up a bevy of potential unfair sackings from workplaces. “He’s a wanker,” is not a proper cause for employment termination. Nor is, I suppose, being arrested for an incident that took place outside of the workplace. But the more abstract and symbolic thinkers amongst us can see how what St.Kilda have done is indeed that…. Symbolic. Nicely symbolic. To quote one of my most hated sayings, it “sends a message.”

So what if he is found not guilty? Dunno. But, does it matter?

The whole debate about whether sporting heroes are role-models or not is one of the more boring public debates. Clearly, they are role models, and clearly, they shouldn’t be because they aren’t equipped to be once they walk off the sporting field. But the fact remains: they are idolized and worshipped. Hell, I idolize and worship a lot of them. The male public figure I admire most on this planet is not Nelson Mandela or Christopher Hitchens or Les Twentyman or George Clooney… it’s Roger Federer, and all he does is whack a green ball across a net. But I can’t help it. He is extremely talented, perhaps the best ever at his sport and by extension that makes him a figure, a personality, a legend. Subsequently, there is unfair pressure on him to be of outstanding character as well as an outstanding green ball-whacker.

John Terry and Tiger Woods know what I mean by this. The mighty hath fallen, for reasons not related to their sporting prowess, which is the very circumstance that elevated them to role-model status in the first place. By cheating on their wives, they cheated on all of us… symbolically.

From my reading of this latest AFL scandal, St. Kilda have cottoned on to my line of thinking. They could pull the ‘innocent before proven guilty’ line and keep him in the team solely so they can win more games. But they now understand their responsibilities back to the general sporting public. Not to their devoted fans (who just want them to win), but to everyone who loves sport. It’s a gift from the Saints that they did not have to legally or contractually give to us. They are saying, “...we manage 42 blokes who are rightly or wrongly role-models to hundreds of thousands of people, and no matter how talented they are, we will honour the abstract trade that takes place between sports people and sports fans around the world… Talent is no longer enough. You continue to make our players role-models and superstars, and in return, we'll weed out the... um, weeds."

Political parties and religions would do well to take note of what sport is doing. Instead of supporting pedo Catholic Priests as they so sickeningly have done in the past, the Micks should have done what St. Kilda have done… offered up the bad apple and said, “Here, we don’t condone this. He’s all yours.”

Credit where credit is due… well done St. Kilda.

(We'll never get to see him play again, so here's a 30 second grab of how good he was...)

44 comments:

Lewd Bob said...

So what if he is found not guilty? Dunno. But, does it matter?

Of course it fucken matters. The guy is not yet guilty. Nor was Stokes, nor was that swimmer who allegedly beat someone up last year or the year before.

The St Kilda football club, I'll have you know, is a part of the Australian community and is governed by the laws of the land, which provides that people are (not probably or maybe) but are innocent until proven guilty.

Until he is found guilty, he should be allowed to play. If he is found not guilty, and has been sacked, then an injustice has been done and, perhaps, the football club could be successfully sued.

The law can be an ass, but if we decide not to adhere to it, we have anarchy which, I'm certain, is fucked.

Perseus said...

Bob, you are technically right in everything you say.

Even so, I still support the decision for the reasons I made in my post.

Mad Cat Lady said...

If I were being fair I'd vote suspended and not allowed to play until matter resolved.

I was a little freaked yesterday, I forget what program it was - daytime television is rotting my brain, where in some states in American they can not employ or fire a person if they are a smoker.

I imagine there's going to be a compulsory fitness program next.

Puss In Boots said...

What if, in his contract, there's a clause that states he can't do anything outside the club which might bring the club's name into disrepute? I'm fairly certain there would be such a clause, and I'm fairly certain that a rape charge and subsequent media attention would be such disrepute.

Regardless of whether he's guilty or not, the club may still be within their rights to sack him, depending on his contract.

squib said...

I'm with Lewd and MCL

Symbolic, my arse

Perseus said...

So you all think St. Kilda were wrong to sack him?

Lewd Bob said...

Regardless of whether he's guilty or not...

If he is not guilty, then it's not his fault that the game has been brought into disrepute. Until the time of a decision either way, he has, by law, done nothing wrong.

Lewd Bob said...

So you all think St. Kilda were wrong to sack him?

I do.

squib said...

They should have suspended him, pending the outcome

Ramon Insertnamehere said...

They should have suspended him by his goolies.

Perseus said...

The rape took place in another player's home. This other player no doubt has assisted the police with their enquiries.

Lovett probably did it. The other bloke (Jason Gram) probably told all the other players.

Naturally, the above comment is total guesswork on my part.

I doubt they'd sack him if they thought he was not-guitly.

Lewd Bob said...

I doubt they'd sack him if they thought he was not-guitly.

Jesus. So we're relying on football administrators to make these decisions?

catlick said...

I agree Perseus. In all codes, alleged drunks and rapists are not a good look. I think Puss makes a good point: we don't know what "morality" clauses are in his contract. In as much as P plate drivers are required by law to drive with a 0% blood alcohol for a period, could we not ask that for the period of the contract, a well paid footballer refrains from getting into situations that result in prosecution?

Lewd Bob said...

refrains from getting into situations...

But he is NOT YET GUILTY!

Puss In Boots said...

Bob, you don't know the contents of his contract, and neither do I. Maybe St Kilda has a zero tolerance policy on such matters? Maybe, since he had previously been in trouble at another club, his clause was that if there was even so much as a whisper of bad behaviour, he'd be out? And I'm sure they spoke with witnesses who were there to decide how much bad publicity they were going to get out of this. I'm sure they wouldn't have sacked him if they didn't think they had cause to do so.

He might not be guilty of rape, but how do you know he's not guilty of violating a term of his contract?

eat my shorts said...

I agree with Puss.

The club would've had plenty of legal advice before making the decision to sack him, wouldn't you think?

They'd have to be aware there'd be the chance he'd turn around and try to sue them. I doubt they'd go ahead & sack him unless he breached his contract.

Perseus said...

Lewd - it was also reported that the other players refused to play alongside him.

Yes, yes... that doesn't make him guilty of the offence to which he has been charged. But I bet a zillion dollars he will be.

*

Oh, but one thing that shits me about the AFL clubs is their corporate-speak. The coach of the team described this whole situation as a 'negative outcome'.

Everything's 'outcomes' these days.

Lewd Bob said...

Well it hardly seems fair that his contract would say 'if there's a whisper that you did something wrong' if the poor cunt's actually innocent.

Melba said...

I don't know about this, but I definitely think a sandwich with Les and George would be pretty tasty.

Puss In Boots said...

It hardly seems fair we're forced to look at Lady Gaga's exposed nether regions on the front of the SMH, but life's not fair.

Alex said...

Minutes after being recruited, he was under investigation for rape, and had some further alcohol-related problems (missing training etc.) The club suspended him indefinitely and the player got some legal help. His argument, which is fair, was that he was yet to be charged with anything and therefore should not be prevented from training with the team

I'm having trouble with this bit. Did he miss training because of alcohol or because he wasn't allowed to attend? In the former case, he may have been in breach of contract even without the rape allegation. I don't really know how these things work.

I agree with Bob though, in that it's a sad state when all you have to do to end someone's career is make an unsubstantiated allegation.

The whole debate about whether sporting heroes are role-models or not is one of the more boring public debates.

I think you run into problems when you start to idolize people because of their achievements, in the field of sport or otherwise. Sure, you could admire the achievements themselves, but the only real reason to admire an actual person is to know them well enough to describe them as, well, an admirable person.

On a related note, I would also like to point out that I think the term "sporting hero" is bullshit.

Lewd Bob said...

life's not fair

No, but the law is pretty clear about being innocent until proven guilty, huh?

Lewd Bob said...

But I bet a zillion dollars he will be

Perhaps this is how we should run the legal system from now on.

Boogeyman said...

So what if he is found not guilty? Dunno. But, does it matter?

Apparently we have a system of law in this country, decided by 'courts' and 'judges' applying a principle known as 'innocent until proven guilty'.

Courts exist so that an accused gets their due opportunity to defend themself before any verdict is decided or punishment is handed down. That is fair to both accuser and accused.

But who gives a fuck about that when your employer can just decide you are 'guilty until proven innocent' without any sort of trial or due process, and suspend you without pay and without the chance to defend yourself?

Also, clauses of disrepute? Oh please. So hypothetically speaking, if you are under one of these clauses and someone falsely accused you of something immoral, you get the sack with no chance to defend yourself?

Puss In Boots said...

No, but the law is pretty clear about being innocent until proven guilty, huh?

Yes, but that's not what you were referring to when you said it didn't sound fair. You were talking about his contract and its hypothetical clauses.

Also, clauses of disrepute? Oh please. So hypothetically speaking, if you are under one of these clauses and someone falsely accused you of something immoral, you get the sack with no chance to defend yourself?

Don't like the clause? Don't sign the contract. Besides, we don't even know exactly what was in his contract. And as I've said before, I'm fairly certain the club would have covered themselves by firing him over some other breach of contract, and not because of the current rumours floating around.

And of course I don't think it's right that he'd be sacked over something he might not actually have done. Of course I believe in the proper application of the justice system, and the "innocent until proven guilty" tenet. All I am saying is that he was likely sacked for breach of contract. What that breach was exactly, I doubt we'll find out.

Boogeyman said...

Most of my employment contracts have something in them about 'not bringing the company into disrepute'.

Those clauses don't mean that they can sack me for an unproven offence. It just means they can sack me for proven offences, and/or sue me privately for what my actions have done to the company's image.

The fooze-ball club in question would be well within its rights, when and if he was proven guilty, to sack him and sue him for at minimum the wages they paid him in the interim.

Alex said...

Those clauses don't mean that they can sack me for an unproven offence. It just means they can sack me for proven offences, and/or sue me privately for what my actions have done to the company's image.

That seems like it should be self evident, just given the wording. I mean, if you're accused of something you didn't do, you haven't brought your employer into disrepute, have you? If your employer has been brought into disrepute, it'd be due to circumstances beyond your control - pertaining to the fact that you didn't actually do anything wrong. Right?

Dr. Golf said...

Pers your Tigers had no issues about employing Cousins, a few weeks after he shaved his head to beat the drug testers.
Of course, he was never charged with anything and never failed a drug test. Innocent until proven guilty, when it suits.

Lewd Bob said...

that's not what you were referring to when you said it didn't sound fair

Yes it was. My point was that a contract can't skirt the law. If the contract says you can be sacked for an alleged offence, and you are sacked, and then proven to be not guilty, then the subject will have recourse because the contract was 'unfair' or, in fact, invalid, illegal and poorly drawn up.

As Boogey alluded to, the contract is extremely unlikely to say they can sack him for rumours, gossip and innuendo. If it does, it's not worth the paper it's written on,

Perseus said...

Lovett's lawyers agree with many of you. In the paper today it says he is suing for $2 million. 'Workplace Bullying'. He probably has a case, too. He may even win the $2m.

Puss In Boots said...

Argh! I'm not saying that *was* the clause! All I am saying is that he was obviously sacked over some breach of contract! We don't know what. Obviously it was legitimate or he wouldn't have been sacked.

You'll notice he's not suing for unfair dismissal. He's suing for workplace bullying. I would suspect he'd succeed on that basis. But it's still very interesting there was no mention of unfair dismissal in the article.

Perseus said...

To clarify, as said in my post, he was not sacked for being accused of rape.

I wrote in my post: Reading through the fine print, the club seems to be saying it is not because of the rape charge… but of course, it is. They know it and we know it.

He was sacked for missing training and/or turning up to training still inebriated, which many companies would sack staff for. Not turning up to a training session is the same as not turning up to work.

But, most clubs would simply fine a player, or suspend him for a week if this happens in the off-season, or send them to counselling.

It is obvious that they used his 'missing training' indiscretion as a tool to get rid of him so as to distance the club from the potential rape.

Lewd Bob said...

Puss, you poo-pooed the idea of 'fairness'.

I personally think it's extremely unfair to sack a guy on allegations. Perhaps it was through breach of contract but, again, we shouldn't be making assumptions about it or the presumed clause or breach of that clause.

Otherwise we're no better than A Current Affair or the Herald Sun.

Puss In Boots said...

That wasn't my intention, actually. I had an entirely more banal reason for the comment. The whole point of it was that you could see Lady Gaga's bits on the SMH. It was disgusting. Of course, just after I wrote it, they removed the photo.

But seriously. You could clearly see everything.

Ramon Insertnamehere said...

Did she have a dick, Puss?

Puss In Boots said...

Not as far as I could see.

Ramon Insertnamehere said...

Good.

Well, that's that dealt with then.

Alex said...

Did she have a dick, Puss?

I probably shouldn't even bother asking who Lady Gaga is, should I?

Ramon Insertnamehere said...

Lady Gaga is an 11 foot robot, Alex.

Originally developed by the Nazis in 1942 as a killing machine, she later turned up in Brazil where she was used as a garden shed before finally turning on her creators in an orgy of unpleasantness.

I trust this clears things up.

Puss In Boots said...

Think Paris Hilton, but with a fetish for completely bizarre and pointless outfits, Alex.

I couldn't actually tell you what she sings, though. I only know of her from her constant appearances on Go Fug Yourself.

Puss In Boots said...

Actually, I prefer Ramon's explanation.

Alex said...

Thanks Puss. So technically she/he/it is a singer - or a lip-syncing dancer or whatever they do these days.

I trust this clears things up.

To the contrary Ramon, it raises more questions. Why would the Nazis give an 11 foot robot killing machine a penis?

Ramon Insertnamehere said...

They're Nazis Alex.

Who the hell knows what goes on in their minds.

WitchOne said...

I despise football and football players.

Having said that, this sacking had me outraged. The guy is charged sure but he is not yet found guilty and trial by popularity contest is not the way we do things here.