Offsiders go at it hammer and tong.


For an interesting analysis of the Melbourne Storm issue, check out yesterday’s Offsiders program which includes some fairly frank and free discussion between panelists, especially GCJD Haigh and Rebecca Wilson.

It’s available in segments at this link (you’ll work it out):

Of the many worms that are released by the opening of the can, the biggest one for me in this issue is the way in which sports business is not thought of in the same way as business business. The elevation of sport remains.

About John Harms

JTH is a writer, publisher, speaker, historian. He is publisher and contributing editor of The Footy Almanac and He has written columns and features for numerous publications. His books include Confessions of a Thirteenth Man, Memoirs of a Mug Punter, Loose Men Everywhere, Play On, The Pearl: Steve Renouf's Story and Life As I Know It (with Michelle Payne). He appears (appeared?) on ABCTV's Offsiders. He can be contacted [email protected] He is married to The Handicapper and has three school-age kids - Theo, Anna, Evie. He might not be the worst putter in the world but he's in the worst four. His ambition was to lunch for Australia but it clashed with his other ambition - to shoot his age.


  1. Tony Robb says

    I too was interested in that particular discussion and thought that Rebecca didn’t handle the conflict of interest issue very well. In fact I thought it was quickly muted as Gideon had the scent for the kill. Mind you the whole News V Fairfax thing has been pathetic. However, Patrick Smith suprised the hell out of me by writing a balanced piece (rare being a Collingwood man) in the Big Paper last week. There are too many personal agendas here that are using the salary cap rort as a smoke screen for pay back and deflection. Waldren should put up or shut up and the NRL should open it eyes and ears to see that the game is losing what competetive edge it had to other codes. Off topic but equally part of the rubbish circulating is the Faloi issue. If the AFL even think about signing this bloke Im never going to the footie again. There is enough hacks who cant kick it now without adding another and Mathews is absolutley correct. It’s an insult to every young kid and player in the league. Its speculative hype I know but honestly, what a load twaddle. More Sheedy black magic Im betting lol. Your point re the different standards between sport and business is valid. However, while we expect CEOs to cheat at business there is still the ever dimishing dream that sport is somehow better than that. Sadly that dream is basically restricted to the efforts of the amatuers these days

  2. johnharms says

    Which is why Tony I will stick to my thesis that all pro sport is tending towards World Championship Wrestling and boxing, and those who love ‘the game’ whatever ‘the game’ might be, will wind up at a park where ‘the game’ is what it is all about. I am not there yet with the AFL. I was there with the NRL in the nmid-90s, but I thought the NRL was climbing a few ladders. The Storm thing means they’ve caught a snake.

  3. This is a fascinating discussion and argument. Its logical conclusion is that professional sport will outsmart itself to such an extent that the bloke on the street will turn his back. However, if we want to watch the best at any sport we need to watch it at a professional level. Therefore we are in a bind; watch the best and be part of the problem or go back to “park” sport for the game itself but miss the best.

    I haven’t sorted it out in my own mind yet. I love watching the best at any sport (well most sports) in action. I love watching AFL and going to AFL. I also love watching blokes like Usain Bolt run, but after each exhilarating race I find myself wandering if he is drugged up, if I’ve just be suckered again, if the corporate Olympic “show” has taken me for another ride. Slightly different issue, but same principle.

    How will we all react if/when an AFL club is caught at it (again) to the extent of the Storm.

  4. By the way, there are also mutterings in the Henry Report into Australia’s tax system that sporting clubs should be taxed. That will create financial stress, which in turn creates “creative” accounting (whatever that is) which in turn produces rule breaking and dishonesty. Watch this space.

  5. johnharms says


    I think the AFL is currently a not-for-profit community organisation isn’t it?

    Agree re the jury being out on pro/ammo and watching the best. I also want to watch the best. Which creates the dilemma.

    For me, it all comes back to meaning: the meaning we find, and the meaning we project. ONe of the best comps I’ve ever seen (and I’m not even a huge basketball fan) was the UQld inter-college comp of 1980. Two Bullets players – one for Union, one for Kings. And a whole stack of other talent. Certainly enough talent. The key was the talent was spread making for an even competition where there was some good old-fashioned heartfelt support.

    After the Kings-Union match, I. Lamb (Australia), the people’s hero, a little 17 year old bloke who had been an enthusiastic spectator walked out of the Uni gym, into the weights room and bench-pressed squillions.

    I’m rambling.

  6. JTH – you’re spot on about “meaning”.

    When Gary Ablett is running across the wing of the MCG with Chris Judd in hot pursuit about to be engaged in a game defining tussle for the ball do we think about salary cap breaches, NRL knuckle heads being signed up by an AFL club, ccrporate greed and corruption? I doubt it.

    We the spectators need to be careful we don’t cut off our noses to spite our face.

  7. Tony Robb says

    Dips and John,
    A right old mess the world of professional sports as brought upon itself. I for one love the purity of watching kids in the Territory playing footie. It certainly makes a mockery of the rubbish served up last Friday. Forget the rubbish of the “chest match” tension. It was crap. Will the quest for 1%ers diminish the game as we have know it. I think it might while coaches ( and they, not the AFL, are to main blame ) continue to stretch every rule to the empteenth degree and the AFL sees the game as a product to be sold and consumed. Its not a product, its a game and unless they allow the game to evolve naturally it will be in a perilous state in a very short time. I for one refused to renew my Carlton membership based on the stupid bloody slogan “they can smell what we are cooking”. What the f**k does that mean? Are we playing on masterchef this year?

    Dips I know that feeling of “is he clean”. Ben Johston forever tanished every record ever set afterwards. Bolt’s efforts last year was astounding but I never felt the same joy. Sad really. However, there remains one last hope and that is kids footie. We need a grass roots revolution from the U10s. Kids having fun in a great game devoid of bloody zone defences and non contested offal.
    Hell, I turning into my old man lol

  8. johnharms says


    Have always been amused by the Fatty-Vautin-catch type scenario, and the Ernie Dingo can actually play and looks like a tubby Curtly Ambrose type scenario.

    Intrigued that we assume that all things the great players can do are out of reach of the every day punter. Some are, but many are not. (Peter Goldsworthy’s great poem Trick Knee…”a handful of sweetly-fluked dancesteps”) Just a matter of consistency and the headspace to be able to do them under pressure.

    It’s one of the reasons golf is such an intriguing game.

  9. Tony Robb says

    John, Your right about golf. It remains one of the few sports where “the game” is constantly between the ears with lots of time for think music. Could you imagine any other professional sportsman calling a penalty on himself as the English golfer did two weeks ago. Cost him a million and he was the only one who saw the ball move. Amazing. Could you see Leon Davis giving back a free kick after admitting he dived or more telling, the Tomahawk fessing up to his kick hitting the goal post last year.

    Off point. Now that you reside on Tropical Canberra, In case your not aware, whcih Id be surprised. 88.7FM transmitts 927 from melbourne. Sadly it has Tony Jones and a stck of Collingwwod rabble as hosts but atleast its some touch of reality in this football desert. Also off point, should you wish to partake in a game of golf I’d be honoured to host you at Royal Belconnen one Wednesday arvo.


  10. johnharms says


    Certainly up for a game some time – sooner rather than later. I’ve had two games here in 10 months.

    Will check out 88.7. Have resisted using the MCH computer for SEN and 3AW listening, but I’m often tempted to get a little fix.

  11. Dips (Response 3, and others.

    Eckhart Tolle in “The Power of Now” argues that there is no past or future, just now. He states that to make the journey into “The Power of Now” we will need to leave our analytical mind and it’s false created self, the ego, behind.

    Therefore it doesn’t matter if Usain Bolt took, or didn’t take, drugs at the time Dips watched him (the then now)as the action is not there now and the future is not there so it can’t matter in future supposedly now.

    To move along, if any sporting body representative(s) has undertaken illegal, immoral, unethical, unkosher, naughty dispicable things, falling outside the spirit of the game, for their own gains it did not happen then because there is only now and not then and there can be no future consequences because there is no future, only now.

    This is possibly going to be the defence in any future investigation.(Did I say that? There isn’t any future so there will be no investigation)

    Therefore the issues of the past (what issues?) do not warrant any further (further is understood to be in future so there for it is null and void) discussion except for my comment, which is now.

    You may have to under stand that by the time anyone in the future (which does not exist) reads this comment it will be from the past it they won’t exist.

    Simple isn’t it.

    So what’s all the fuss about. If there was a future then maybe Eckhart would support the villians at any formal retrebution forum by arguing at the time (now) that there is no case to answer as it did not happen. (Then)

    Now is anyone confused. Don’t worry it is just a passing thing.

  12. Phantom, I’m no philosopher but I just read the crib notes on Wikipedia about The Power of Now. On it the term Surrender is discussed, and I quote:

    ‘Tolle speaks not only of acceptance of what is, but also of surrender to it.[30] This “is the simple but profound wisdom of yielding to rather than opposing the flow of life … to surrender is to accept the present moment unconditionally and without reservation.”

    This may easily be misunderstood, and Tolle goes on to explain that he is not suggesting anyone should accept for evermore some unpleasant situation in life. That is mere resignation. Surrender is a purely inner phenomenon, changing our attitude so we accept how things are at this moment. Then we can act positively to change the ongoing situation, and such positive action is likely to be far more effective than if it arose out of the anger, frustration or despair of resistance.”

    Given this, the unpleasantness is the issue of the past. Ben Johnson, roeting etc. Based on this quote could it not be the case that we then act positively to change the situation. I.E. Stringent drug testing, a changed salary cap with the intent that we accept it and are acting positively to ensure that these issues do not happen again.

  13. Phantom says

    Tim, well researched response.

    I was really flippantly making light of an issue that won’t change as there is unlikely to be any “positive action” while the players (and officials) scurry to the dugout.

    When should we undertake this positive action? Now or in the future.

    Cheers, Phantom.

  14. Now absolutely now :)

    You’re exactly right, players and officials are scurrying to the dugout and as mentioned above by Tony Robb it is not helped at all by a media taking pot shots at each other (which is not positive, nor helpful).

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