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The AFL’s unhealthy obsession with violence

AFL broadcasters and commentators routinely glorify on-field violence, writes Alex Hipgrave.

AS AUSTRALIAN Rules Football (AFL) arrives out of its coronavirus quarantine, I noticed a marketing advert narrated by Bruce McAvaney.

In it, he described how the gamers were being now prepared to go to “battle”, reminding me of just how minor I have skipped the violent vernacular so typically discovered in Australian activity, significantly in AFL.

The channel 7 advert offered the viewer with pictures of players brutalising every single other: tackling opponents into the ground, slamming them versus fences, hair pulling and all-out brawls. To accompany these scenes had been loud banging seems, effectively simulating violent, physical effects.

Even though this typical violent behaviour in AFL games is pretty distinct, the complementary aspect of violent vernacular is usually disregarded. Violent vernacular is a considerably additional subtle edition of the indignity that activity presents us – 1 that additional proves just how ingrained in our society violence has come to be.

Change on the tv through the submit-match interviews of an AFL sport. Players routinely refer to their kicking of a ball all over a grass area although wearing colourful costumes for handsome sums of money as a thing akin to “war” or “battle.”

The AFL and its broadcasters understand the absurdity of this, so they present viewers with a veneer of sophistication: punditry.

Pre-recreation, half-time and publish-video game demonstrates consist of primarily ex-gamers turned pundits discussing the affairs of the games in designer satisfies, with stacks of paper sitting down on the desk in front of them, accompanied by a experienced studio aesthetic – fabricating an aura of civility and respectability to the otherwise incongruous proceedings of games.

And who are these expert pundits that media firms bestow upon viewers?

https://www.youtube.com/check out?v=f8VTSGLCa1M

Rupert Murdoch’s Fox Athletics employs Eddie McGuire – who the moment claimed that he would like to see a feminine colleague drowned Alastair Lynch – notorious for throwing punches on the football industry and from 2012-2016, Barry Hall – a person nearly solely renowned for his petulant outbreaks of physical violence and vulgarity.


Probably most egregiously, channel 7 employs Wayne Carey – a serial domestic abuser. The AFL market and its corporate media companions reward these adult males with soft employment, waddling onto mainstream tv studio sets and preaching their violent vernacular to the nation just about every week.

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A single consequence of the violence exhibited during AFL games, each actual physical and rhetorical, is the considerable rise in stories of domestic assaults on big video game days, which is also accurate in the context of Nationwide Rugby League (NRL) online games, the Melbourne Cup and other sporting occasions.

It shouldn’t appear as a shock – nor should really it be regarded a coincidence – that we see a 20% increase in loved ones violence on Grand Ultimate times when misogynists like McGuire and thugs like Carey are portrayed as the voices of intellect and respectability during the broadcasts of previously physically violent affairs.

Australia ought to reckon with the notion that domestic abuse and glorification of violence is common in our tradition – primarily when a single of our most cherished pastimes is bristling with rhetoric from the mouths of men and women so intrinsically connected to all those things.

That these people are propped up and transmitted into our homes on television screens should really prompt shame for the state of Australian lifestyle – if not disgust.

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Even a a lot extra benign pundit these kinds of as Jonathan Brown, has spent most of his professional life voluntarily hurling his encounter into all fashion of sites, which has resulted in a number of serious head and facial injuries. His undertaking so, nevertheless, acquired the significant praise of commentators at the time, just as other players’ related steps are generally referred to as “courageous”, “brave” and “heroic.”

They plunged their bodies into the reliable grass area, or into fellow gamers, in pursuit of catching a ball. That does not make them brave or heroic – it tends to make them imprudent, intemperate individuals in a weirdly savage and puerile exercise – they should not be praised or thought of part versions for it.

Australia’s favourite sport is littered with rhetoric that glorifies self-inflicted violence and violence inflicted upon some others. In 2016, a game amongst Geelong and Port Adelaide broke out into an monumental brawl at quarter time – a spectacle that Brian Taylor gleefully celebrated in its place of condemning. This form of party isn’t isolated – equivalent types materialize each individual weekend and degrade Australian modern society in the approach.

As the AFL returns from its COVID-19 hiatus, I hope Australians can start to see its violent vernacular for what it is and probably instil some dignity and amour propre into our culture.

Alex Hipgrave is a writer principally involved with social and political concerns. He is at the moment finding out a Bachelor of Arts at Edith Cowan University, majoring in literature and writing. You can stick to Alex on Twitter @alex_hipgrave.

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