The fools in the AFL playing fraternity who â€“ like Wikileaksâ€™ Julian Assange â€“ pray on young women who bestow affection on them for no sensible reason are on notice. If you act like a creepy sexual predator ready to exploit young women, you could pay a high and embarrassing price even if there are no legal consequences from your actions.
While weâ€™ve decided for now not to publish the photographs now in wide circulation of the well-paid professional athlete role models who allowed themselves to be photographed naked, we see no legal or ethical reason not to do so. We havenâ€™t seen the Federal Court order apparently made against Facebook and the the feisty young woman who styles as [now suppressed by the Federal Court] (apparently not her real name) but we doubt thereâ€™ll be an ongoing or certainly effective legal restriction on publishing her pictures. She has twenty-one in total, she says obtained from a variety of sources.
And itâ€™s worth considering what happened with this teenage girl before accepting many journalistsâ€™ disparagement of her from talking points given by St Kilda officials. So powerful are they that they have even strong-armed the press into not identifying her so that people can hear her views or her voice despite her determination to be heard. Sheâ€™s no longer publishing the pictures but she is speaking out and even answering questions on FormspringÂ and Twitter. She wants to be heard and her story initially was a pretty sad one.
From what we know, she was and remains a Saints fan. A pretty heart-broken one about now.
And at age sixteen, while a high school student in Frankston, she met St Kilda players at a community function.
She eventually slept with two St Kilda players, both quite a bit older than her. The players say she misled them about her age. It seems they were not careful to check.
When she became pregnant, she received little support just disparagement in the mainstream media so addicted to news hand-outs from football clubs they often let their players off pretty lightly.
At that point, the players, the Club she loved didnâ€™t want to know her.
And her reaction at that point, while probably not ideal, was driven by an entirely understandable sense of hurt and betrayal.
This must have been compounded when the pregnancy didnâ€™t work out after medical complications.
Rather than offer support and love and compassion, the young woman was frozen out, treated as a menace by the young men she idolised. Ranks were closed. Her name wasnâ€™t published but came to be well-known.
Now sheâ€™s apparently moving to Queensland hoping for a new life.
The players, the clubs, the AFL itself need to make some tough decisions about how it deals with the â€œgroupieâ€ phenomenon that exists around them.
Many of the players think itâ€™s a perk of the job that they get young women throwing themselves at their feet.
The smart ones know the risks.
In the US, athletes and their odious entourages routinely carry around video cameras to record young â€œgroupiesâ€ giving consent before they enter the penthouse suite.
Itâ€™s all pretty off. Itâ€™s a culture unfamiliar to even the most ardent footy fans. Itâ€™s footballâ€™s dirty, dark secret.
AFL footballers are professional athletes, theyâ€™re paid a lot of money to be more than that though. They are paid to be role models, to act in a way that sets an example for people of the same age. They are paid to represent something much bigger than themselves, a Club, many of them like Essendon with more than a hundred years of history, Premierships, shared sacrifice and the devotion of hundreds of thousands of supporters across the nation. When an Essendon fan walks on the hallowed turf of Windy Hill, even though they havenâ€™t played football there for twenty years, even though it soon wonâ€™t even be where the players train, they know they walk among the memories and passion of the greatest club in the land. They know itâ€™s a special place. I feel the same awe walking around there as Iâ€™ve felt in cathedrals in Europe and walking through the old city of Jerusalem. Sick, I know.
The players hear it all the time. How special they are. How lucky they are. How important the traditions and the supporters are. We accept itâ€™s a huge burden for some young kids who confront the massive temptation of easy money, easy lays and countless people whoâ€™ll through free drinks and drugs at them if they want.
But itâ€™s a burden for which they have signed up and received a lot of money and support in return. Itâ€™s an honour to play for their Club, even those other than Essendon. Honour. Itâ€™s written on the walls of so many Club rooms. We wonder how many around the Clubs â€“ not just the players – take it in.
In her radio interviews, she sounds feisty, in control and aggressive but we wonder what fragility and sadness sheâ€™s masking. We hope there are good people caring for her and supporting her as there are the St Kilda players whoâ€™ve made jackasses of themselves.
It might have best if the young lady had been treated with a little more human decency and honour from the get-go.
What goes around comes around.