Jack Off: a relief or should the system be flushed down the cistern?

It’s outrageous, egregious, preposterous…

Seinfeld’s lawyer cameo Jackie Chiles spoke for the pitchfork wielding masses upon the news Jack Viney had been suspended for an incident the umpire at the scene did not deem worthy of a free kick.

For the Match Review Panel to arrive at such a ludicrous verdict in the first place raises serious questions. After all, this is the same panel that necessitated a redefining of the bump rule when it got the Lindsey Thomas / Ben Reid situation so horribly wrong in round 1 of last year.

But if the system and the panel did arrive at a technically correct decision, as lone wolf Damien Barrett contended, the bracing outcome for the AFL Tribunal is that it’s time to revisit the whole process and the rules once again to avoid more farcical wastes of time.

I tend to think the bump clarification made at the behest of the AFLPA after the Thomas – Reid balls-up was not the problem though. In my opinion, the MRP simply failed to use common sense and, incomprehensibly, their combined 514 AFL game playing experience to determine the contact was beyond the defendant’s control, which is the out clause under the ‘forceful contact’ law.

No one disputes safety is paramount, but in the words of Elvis Costello, ‘accidents will happen’, at least in 0.3 seconds they will. Unfortunately, it’s the injury that often informs a verdict, despite the fact that it can be a matter of unlucky millimetres between a broken bone and a bruise.

If twitter outrage was anything to go by, 98% of players would have instinctively reacted the same as Jack Viney, whose only crime was to be in the wrong place at the wrong time. The one who defied physics and leapt out the way of the oncoming traffic Neo-from-Matrix-style would be dropped and his reputation besmirched forever. The other who attempted to tackle might have been rewarded with a jumper full of busted ribs or a broken jaw to match Tom Lynch’s.

Surely common sense alone could have found a way through the legal claptrap and the convoluted points system masterminded by Adrian Anderson to bring greater certainty to the outcome of reportable incidents.

As Greg Baum noted in The Age, it was ironic that three former ‘hard-nutted’ footballers judged against the bump and the player, necessitating three lawyers to correctly determine Viney did in fact act reasonably.

In any case, the football public would probably welcome some communication from headquarters as to what the terms negligent, deliberate and reckless mean exactly, and how the terms differ. The baffling aspect of the Thomas bump, and more recently the Daniel Merrett elbow, is that deliberate intent to cause harm seems to account for so little.

Then again, this has been the case for a number of years now, harking back to Barry Hall’s magical reprieve that enabled him to raise the cup for the AFL, I mean Sydney, in 2005 (the ‘out’ clause in some of these cases has been to rate the contact force as low impact).

Is attempted murder not a crime?

And would an Ablett or a Pendlebury have been suspended under the same circumstances as Viney? What we have is a tribunal so consistently inconsistent that it breeds such conspiracy theories.

On Gillon McLachlan’s ever growing to-do list he can add pointing a microscope on the game’s judicial system that continually erodes players and supporters’ faith in the game. If faith is to be restored, I can’t help but think some incumbents may need bumping too.

About Jeff Dowsing

Washed up former Inside Sport and Sunday Age Sport freelancer. Now just giving my stuff away to good homes. Not to worry, still have my health and day job. Published & unpublished works fester on my blog Write Line Fever.

Comments

  1. Peter_B says

    “Jack Off” seems a little crude, JD. Why not reprise that excellent ABC Sporting Program from the 80’s – “Jack High”?
    Little violence or physical risk in lawn bowls for Concerned Mums of Kew to worry about. Except in the bar after the last rink.
    Dunno about asking Gillon to explain negligent, deliberate and reckless. The English language hasn’t yet recovered from his explanation of tanking.
    I think such deeply metaphysical concepts should remain with the White Rabbit and Lewis Carroll where they belong:
    “Why, sometimes I’ve believed as many as six impossible things before breakfast.”
    “If I had a world of my own, everything would be nonsense. Nothing would be what it is, because everything would be what it isn’t. And contrary wise, what is, it wouldn’t be. And what it wouldn’t be, it would. You see?”

  2. Malcolm Ashwood says

    Very succinct and spot on Jeff

  3. Ha, you always make me laugh Peter B.

    I thought Jack Off was a pretty good euphemism for the whole shebang.

    Thanks MA.

  4. Mark 'Swish' Schwerdt says

    Meet me down by the jetty landing

    Where the the pontoons accidentally collide and sway

  5. Did Oz Crawl write a definition for negligent as well Swish?

  6. Mark 'Swish' Schwerdt says

    No but Reckless appeared on the album called ‘Semantics’

  7. Beautiful Swish!

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