Better to be antisocial

Josh Bootsma is silly.  Perhaps he didn’t want to play football.  It could be argued he didn’t do too much playing during his 14 games.  Only in four games did he get more than 10 possessions.  In eight games he had seven or less possessions.  He kicked just two goals and averaged two marks per game.


Bootsma was easily out-bodied, out-marked and out-hustled.  He was a long term prospect, a man whose body hadn’t caught up to his height or age.  Standing 190cm tall, Bootsma weighed just 74kg.


It could be argued his brain hasn’t caught up to his age.


On Tuesday, Bootsma was sacked.  The technical explanation was inappropriate use of social media.  It is alleged that he uploaded inappropriate photos on Snapchat.  Most people had never heard of Snapchat.  It wasn’t hard to figure out what it is.


According to news reports, Bootsma allegedly exchanged photos with a teenage girl and her mother alerted the club.  It is beyond comprehension that Bootsma would share photos with a teenage girl.  He has learnt nothing from Ricky Nixon and the St Kilda football club.


He learned nothing from Brock McClean, who got cranky on twitter in 2012 and wrote about getting AIDS from someone’s mum.  McClean was given a one match suspended sentence and told to donate $5000 to an appropriate charity.


Inappropriate use of social media is nothing new.  People are sexting, bullying, fighting and setting up affairs.  Communication networks are prone to be abused.


Most recently, Rihanna and Scout Willis are at war with Instagram because of their nipples.


Both women are proud of their nipples.  Naturally, they want to show them off.  They believe they should be able to flaunt them without sanction.  Unfortunately, Instagram doesn’t like nipples.  Rihanna and Scout don’t like constraints.


Fifty percent of the population probably agrees with them.


One hundred percent of Carlton fans agreed with Bootsma’s sacking.  He hasn’t played a game this year.  He won’t be missed.  He might not get another chance at AFL level.


Despite being contracted until the end of 2015, the Blues tried to offload him last year, hoping West Coast or Fremantle would pick him up.


They didn’t want him.


His girlfriend is due to give birth any moment.  Bootsma’s contract won’t be paid out.  He has acted inappropriately.  His life is suddenly very different.


Carlton’s acting CEO Andrew McKay said Bootsma had been advised many times on the use of social media.


McKay also said there were a number of issues that have been ongoing throughout the year.  Bootsma was late for a few meetings.  His attitude wasn’t what was expected of an AFL footballer.  Neither was his ability.


‘Our guys are versed in social media and how we behave on social media,’ McKay said.  ‘It’s a real reminder for all players, all young men and women across society that you need to be very, very careful when you are dealing with social media.’


McKay wouldn’t go into detail about the photos.  ‘It involves images that were highly inappropriate and does not meet the standards of the football club,’ he said.


Social media might be handy and addictive but it is also dangerous.  About five years ago when I was working for the state government, a woman used social media to post a photo of herself in lingerie.  Her boss found out and said she had brought the state government into disrepute.


She wasn’t sacked but it is a fair bet she’s never done it again.  Her photo ensured everyone who worked for the state government was given an explicit warning and clear instructions on social media.  The government’s reputation counted on discipline.  Our social life was not separate from work.


In 2011, after purchasing a grand final ticket, I made a rare post on Facebook, the first in a year – Picked up my grand final ticket today.  A friend sent a warning, be careful because the AFL is checking Facebook and they can cancel your ticket.


I didn’t respond.  The ticket had been purchased legally.  Her warning was unnecessary.  Everyone knows inappropriate use of social media can cancel your ticket, cancel your job and cancel life as you know it.


As McKay said, all Carlton players are educated on the use of social media.  Bootsma might’ve been sending selfies during that lecture.


Maybe he was following Rihanna and Scout on Twitter, getting updates of their nipple war against Instagram.  There is no irony that those women are fighting for nudity and Bootsma was allegedly sacked because of it.


Unfortunately for Bootsma, he wasn’t sharing photos with a woman.  He can’t claim naked rights like Rihanna and Scout want to do.  They are old enough to act like adults, if they want to.


Bootsma is old enough too.  Carlton tried training him to act like an adult but Bootsma wasn’t ready to give up his teenage years.



About Matt Watson

My name is Matt Watson, avid AFL, cricket and boxing fan. Since 2005 I’ve been employed as a journalist, but I’ve been writing about sport for more than a decade. In that time I’ve interviewed legends of sport and the unsung heroes who so often don’t command the headlines. The Ramble, as you will find among the pages of this website, is an exhaustive, unbiased, non-commercial analysis of sport and life. I believe there is always more to the story. If you love sport like I do, you will love the Ramble…


  1. Matt

    Agree and well said. Think it would be interesting to see what would have occurred was the player concerned needed/wanted/valuable/high profile etc. Bootsma isn’t missed by his teammates which makes this easier. For everything the club has said about consistency (and I think Carlton have handled this brilliantly and completely done the right thing) it is intruiging to think what the case would be had it been Gibbs or Murphy or an up and comer.

    These situations usually involve the insecure or immature, so it rarely arises. Gram at the Saints was a higher profile and talented player but clearly had issues. The test for clubs comes when they have to punish someone that then punishes all. The Blues in this instance lose nothing on-field with Bootsma going and probably gain off it.

    A story in the little paper a few days back alluded to a game late last year at Gold Coast. Bootsma was in the team and travelled but claimed gastro, so was dropped and gastro so bad he had to stay in the hotel and couldn’t attend in person. Whilst the game was on, he went to the beach with his girlfriend, and was dumb enough to post a photo. I can only imagine how his teammates felt about him after that.


  2. There is always a much deeper and more complex story behind the public story of any person gone off the rails.
    As Sean says, Carlton have handled the issue totally appropriately – before, during and after.
    My Eagles handled Cousins appallingly – precisely because he was too valuable a commodity. Talent buys licence buys the capacity for self destruction – if that is your trajectory. You can buy your own bubble. Think Elvis, Michael Jackson, Phil Spector etc – no nay sayers tolerated inside the bubble.
    I was disgusted but not surprised by Channel 7 and the follow on print media continuing to dredge up the (obviously not inconsiderable dirt) on Bootsma.
    Unlike the St Kilda and Nixon stories there is no public interest here. Just a troubled young man now being forced to quickly decide whether to do 20 years of growing up in the next 6 months. There is equal opportunity for growth or self pity and descent.
    Move along folks – nothing worth seeing here.

  3. John Pini says

    I am not of the social media age but my kids are. While I use Facebook and LinkedIn they are not what I do when I get up or in every waking moment but for some young people this is their reality.
    I do notice that each of my kids (teenagers) the first thing they do after sport or practice is to check their social media. Social media is a regular topic of conversation in our house and we do talk about its goods and ills.
    I have tried to get each of my kids to use a couple of simple measures before they post anything. 1) Would you be comfortable showing this and explaining this to your grandparents? and 2) Would you be comfortable having this pic broadcast in the local shopping centre? The other reminder is that private on Social media is an unknown term, everything can or will be public.
    These seem to reduce what my kids post but they are still teenagers and part of the job description for teenagers is making mistakes.
    My son plays AFL up here in Queensland and there are many things that are apparent but one of these is that while these kids are all the same chronological age they are vastly different in their social and emotional ages/development.
    I don’t seek to excuse Bootsma but losing his livelihood seems a high price for immaturity.
    We have a local member who has done many things including taking his mistress on official travel and sending pics of a body part of his and a glass of red wine. He still has his job!

Leave a Comment