I’m cranky – it’s time for the footy mums to step up

After such a cracking win on Saturday night, I was rudely awaken from the momentary peace in the Saints world with news this morning that Jack Stevens was caught driving with 0.08 alcohol in his system on Sunday morning, he was fined and he will lose his licence for 6 months.  The Club and the Police have dealt with the matter; his is being punished legally and is suspended for one match.

It has completely upset me as a mother and a citizen.  Firstly, he could have hurt himself or others on the road.  Thankfully, no one is hurt but that is just bloody lucky.  He was way over and it was the morning after.  So how much did he drink?  Secondly, he most certainly wasn’t drinking alone.  If tested, how many of his team mates would have also tested over.  Thirdly, with a late night game, and the relaxation or partying and coming down doesn’t begin until 11pm+, how much sleep was had, how much drinking, was there any food in his system.  All the worries a mum has when her boys are in danger of hurting themselves and others.  How many of the boys were needing breath tests before driving Sunday 10am to the Club. Fourthly, should there be 10am meetings on the morning after night games?  With all the talk these last weeks about sleeping tablets, the Richmond drama of just last week, the hyped state of players after a game is an issue.  How do they settle themselves, they are like shift workers totally out of whack with the normal routines, so to have an early meeting means that there is an expectation that they go to bed at a reasonable hour.  They are also young and stupid.  Stupid in the sense that they, at that age, feel invincible.  A car accident won’t happen to them, a sexually transmitted disease won’t happen to them, life is a party.  There is no worry about tomorrow, figuratively or literally.

I have two young ones in the house, 20 and 17.  I often go to bed at 10-11pm and they are still up studying or being out or up to 2-3 am, sleep and then start their day later.  I remember the old days when I could be up all night myself.  Never a big drinker, but there were occasions.  It’s hard to be in the routine, especially if your relaxation after a full day only comes at the hour when no good comes of it.

As a social worker and therapist of many years, and having my own set of demons, I have watched the havoc night time can play on the mind.  Often, it is the depressed thoughts or troublesome actions that happen after midnight.  In these early morning hours, sensible decisions NEVER get made.  It is not a time for thoughtfulness.  It is a time of action, reaction, and hyperactivity because the body is going against what it actually needs, to be in a state of coming down and sleeping.

So I am cranky.  And worried that again, the partying image of the St.Kilda boys is what dominates the news and not their hard work and effort in 90% of their lives.  I do not want to wake up to news of car crashes, arrests, injuries and heartache to their family and friends, and in the wider world, their team mates, club and supporters.  I want these young men to live long and healthy lives.  To go on to meet girls they can have families with, find work in their life that will have meaning for them, to continue to be adventurous and enjoy their lives with all their bodily parts intact.

In one Social Work job many moons ago, I was working for the Armed Services for a short locum job, and visited a new paraplegic 20 year old soldier who had been in a car accident (with four of his mates), all out drinking and piled into a car and the outcome was the worst.  He will live with this for the rest of his life.  His path will be forever changed from his original plan and career.  Who knows how he is, but one series of moments of recklessness have changed his life forever.

I don’t want this for any young (or old) person, and I don’t want this for the boys who give me so much pleasure.  So how can we have this conversation with them in a way that can be heard? Is it time for the mothers associated with the Club to band together and speak out, to have a different conversation that tries to manage the usual excesses in young adult men?  Can there be a venue where mothers concerns can be heard so that the boys still carry the more cautious voices in their minds as well as the encouragement to adventure that a boys club carries?  Where are the voices of restraint?

I prefer the voices of restraint rather than the wailing if these boys, any of them from all teams, are being buried in hospitals or in the ground.

About Yvette Wroby

Yvette Wroby writes, cartoons, paints through life and gets most pleasure when it's about football, and more specifically the Saints. Believes in following dreams and having a go.

Comments

  1. Kelsey Smith says:

    I totally agree with you Yvette, after such a fabulous win by the boys why does there always seem to be a spoiler?

    And drink driving? I was under the impression that the players aren’t even allowed to drink during the season, but apparently I am wrong.

    As a 21 year old who doesn’t drink and never has had a drink, it really annoys me that they feel they need to celebrate a great win with the alcohol in the first place.

    And why he would choose to drive the next morning, why not find another form of transport?

    And where are the older leaders at the club to pull them into line? I agree with you that he mustn’t have been drinking alone, surely there was someone there who knew better.

    He should have known better actually.

    It is so disappointing

    I hope this is a lesson to all footy players. Someone could have gotten hurt, or worse, it is such a terrible decision that he made. And sadly, I don’t think he’s the only one making these bad decisions.

  2. Dear Kelsey, I didn’t drink until in my later 20’s, and never a big one. But the pressure is there. When I was 16 and going to parties, I was the only sober one at 9pm, and I’d go home bored because others were breaking their hands through glass windows or vomiting. Maybe they should all have breathalysers are each others houses, or in their cars. Chemists have drug testing kits, perhaps some sell breathalysers.

    And the young man I saw as a social worker was quadraplegic,not paraplegic. When I talked to my son last night, I found myself tearful, remembering this young mans look of bewilderment that he couldn’t move any part of his body. He would suffer a lifetime of infantile dependancy. He would never follow his earlier dreams. All because of recklessness.

    I have sent this article to the St.Kilda footy club as well. I will follow it up.

    Thanks for your thoughts. It was a real spoiler.

    Yvette

  3. Luke Ridgwell says:

    Yvette,

    With all due respect, I think your going at the Saints a bit hard here. As a 20 something who enjoys the odd beverage, I think we should look at this one a bit more reasonably. From experience, car pooling to uni on a Friday was often left to the one who passed the morning breathalyser before we left.

    Jack Steven is a young man with a very structured and disciplined life and with a large disposable income. Better he have a fair few beers to unwind after a big win, than take something more illicit (that appeals because it won’t impact on his recovery or skinfolds). No doubt he was somewhat silly to drive in the morning, but better he have beers and drive in the morning, than drive home at night or take something more serious.

    And as for being out late and not making smart decisions, those silly decisions are half the fun. Fond and funny memories you can look back on when you are older and don’t have the chance to do such things. If young footballers can make good fundamental decisions (ie. getting a taxi home at night and not doing drugs), then I reckon they are doing ok.

  4. Peter Schumacher says:

    Sorry Luke,

    I too had my youthful excesses but the difference was that I was never going to be an elite footballer or an elite anything. These blokes for one reason or another have skills that many of us would die for and it pains me greatly when these skills are abused by stupid behavior particularly if it can lead to someone else’s permanent damage or death.

  5. Phil Dimitriadis says:

    I can empathize with your crankiness Yvette and I can also relate to what Luke is saying. In the early 1900’s Jack Worrall once said: “Boys, booze and football do not mix”. Therefore young people hitting the turps is not a new phenomenon. What worries me is the culture which implies that we should drink to celebrate or drink to commiserate. Where does that stem from?
    Also the mixed messages that young people receive. Jack may well be the ‘Carlton Draught Sub’ when he next plays. No wonder young people get confused. But, then again alcohol was associated with footy before Worrall’s time and clubs have often used the booze as a vehicle to make money well before so-called professionalism.

    All we can do is try and help minimise damage through info, education and look at how other cultures practise their drinking habits. A young tearaway will often test the limits of his/her mortality Yvette. This may sometimes involve booze or drugs or a myriad of other temptations. Thank you for your thought-provoking piece and Luke, thanks for your perspective. Interesting debate.

  6. Andrew Starkie says:

    Yvette, have you passed this onto the club? You should. As a new parent, I’m hearing you.

    Luke, I was as big a DH as the best of them and rarely thought of the impact my actions had on my parents. I Couldn’t see past my own nose. Hey, I was young.

    Now, I look back on some of the stupid things I did and cringe and shudder. I was lucky to survive some late nights. Now, I have a completely different view on the world.

    Life’s for the living, but be careful.

  7. Peter_B says:

    Good discussion, thanks for raising it Yvette. Logically you are right, but when did human emotions and actions have much to do with logic and reason?
    I have had a long involvement with self help communities for those who struggle with self-destructive behaviour. It makes absolutely no logical sense, but most of us engage in it to some extent.
    My conclusions are that most help doesn’t help. It is largely well-meaning do-gooders preaching to the converted, to make themselves feel better, but with little behaviour change among those at risk. So raise awareness by all means, and footy clubs (or any formal structure involving young people) are well advised to have structured mentoring/buddy systems that put requirements on the group ‘elders’ (comparatively – we are talking 26YO’s having an interest in 18YO’s behaviour and welfare) to ‘guide/monitor’ younger members.
    But lets not get too carried away with what’s achievable – elders have their demons too. I know of young Crows that had their lives/careers ruined by following SGoodwin’s example on the punt. He was a good enough player/wealthy/wise enough to be worth supporting through his troubles. Younger or less talented players got ditched.
    A final comparison that comes to mind is the “Damned Whores/God’s Police” dichotomy/contradiction for women that Anne Summers wrote about in the 70’s. With young men – particularly young sportsmen – we want them to be savage warriors on the field and in training, then role models visiting the sick and elderly in their spare time. Give me a break. Some have that natural empathy, but most are just testing the boundaries as young men do.
    That is why interviewing players in the media or worse – having them as commentators – gives me the shits. Most are pretty vacuous (understandably at that age), and they also have to protect their club position – so they give you more of the bleeding obvious than Basil and Hamish on a bad day.
    I’ll take my pills now (but I won’t drive afterward – see what age does for you).

  8. Dear all,

    thank you for your responses. It really is worth talking and writing about.

    My eldest daughter reminded me of something huge tonight when I talked about the article with her. She reminded me that when my youngest was 5 weeks old, we were in our Volvo Station Wagon, the youngest in the then valcro harness baby capsule, my son 3 in his boosted seat, and my eldest, just five, in the back of the station wagon, tied in, but with the baby pusher next to her.

    It was 10am on a Sunday morning and we were headed to Ballarat to visit old work friends. While waiting at a red light, with my then husband driving, a car rammed into the back of us. No warning, no screeching tires, nothing. He was drunk from the night before. He just fell asleep. He was perfectly fine, often the drunk don’t get injured because they are so relaxed… He pushed our car across the intersection and into the light pole opposite. Thankfully, not into on-coming traffic. The airbags went off, my 5 week old was flung up side down out of the capsule but it had a cloth lid so she did nothing but flip (and was OK), but my eldest had a broken collar bone and cuts and bruises and 3 weeks in hospital to manage. My son, who had never really spoken yet, didn’t speak for another year and his first words were “car crash”. My daughter in hospital had to do with her dad sleeping with her at nights because I had a new born but I was there every day. My son clung to me like a limpet. The kindness of strangers who helped until the ambulance came, someone going home, and getting his car with a baby bassinet and me handing over my 5 week old to strangers who promised to bring her to the Western District Hospital, and they did. Being in the ambulance front seat with my son clinging to me terrified, hearing the screams of my beautiful 5 year old daughter who was in pain, traumatized and calling for me. Her father was in the back. My daughter had to undergo surgery but was OK.

    The unconscious is a powerful thing. I have had such a reaction to the incident and now it is clear why. My family were victims of someone when the scenario was so much worse, not as bad as many, but with lasting anxieties and traumas.

    Luke, to be .08 in the morning meant it was way more than a few beers to relax. This is way over the .05 limit and shows that the alcohol takes time to work through even the system of fit athletes. There is a difference between a few beers and going over .05. Our competencies are diminished and drugs do the same.

    And my reaction shows that the memory lasts internally even though I’d forgotten until my daughter reminded me. It lives within me now. We were very very lucky. I have my three children, we were all OK. Others are not so and my heart goes out to them.

    Drink or drugged driving is a huge issue, and I’m glad to see you’ve been smart enough to always designate a driver. Sometimes, like my son has told me happened to him, you don’t realise you are not quite right until you are actually out there driving.

    Be well and be safe.

    Yvette

  9. pamela sherpa says:

    Drink driving is a huge issue as you’ve highlighted Yvette. But sadly and selfishly individuals and organisations continue to make excuses and live in denial. The AFL’s alcohol advertising really annoys me.

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