Stop the slander: Enough is enough

I can’t say I have much of an opinion on Tyrone Vickery. He’s done some good things throughout his career, but that’s as far as my thoughts travel.


But for what I lack in opinion, plenty of others are happy to make up.


“Harry Potter and the Curse of Tyrone Vickery,” one tweet read.


“Tyrone Vickery is proof you can’t polish a turd,” read another.


“Richmond 4-0, Hawthorn 0-4. Reason??? Tyrone Vickery”


“Richmond 3-0, hawthorn 0-3. The Tyrone Vickery effect is in full swing #useless”


The list goes on.


The abuse of Hawthorn’s Tyrone Vickery has gone into overdrive of late, and last week a handful of AFL figures weighed in on the cruelty behind the keyboard.


Matthew Richardson was the first to bring the issue into the spotlight, saying it had gone ‘too far’.


“I don’t think people realise the effect these things can have on people,” he said on 3AW.


Richmond captain Trent Cotchin was next.


“The reality is, Ty’s a fantastic person,” he said.


“It’s one of those ones you just have to block out because the reality is there are people out there who don’t really have positive things to say.”


Slander isn’t a new topic of discussion, it’s been around as long as the game itself.


However social media and the internet is opening more doors for those ready to launch an attack.


Little would think twice before hurling abuse during a game, and voicing a nasty attack online.


Why would we stop and think about the genuine effects our opinion is having on that footballer? They can cop it; it’s just an opinion.


But what is just an opinion to some is a world of negativity crashing down on our new whipping boy, and could have serious consequences.


In recent years, the AFL has been exposed to the dark reality of depression.


Players such as Mitch Clark and Buddy Franklin have brought their battles into the public eye, with the entire AFL community rallying around them in support.


While both men bravely opened up about their mental health, there would be plenty of others battling behind closed doors.


Our behaviours could easily contribute to the struggles some already face.


This isn’t the first time issue of online slander has been brought to the forefront.


It was brilliant tackled by Mark Robinson in 2015, when he addressed the issue of Jack Watts.


The 2008 No. 1 draft pick had been placed on a pedestal from day one, and clearly struggled with the title from early on in his career. Unable to instantly live up to expectations, he became the victim of ferocious online bullying. Twitter, Instagram and Facebook were just a few pathways for footy fans to give Watts a piece of their minds… and don’t forget the slander from the stands.


Robbo went on to address the minds of Mr and Mrs Watts, who would undoubtedly be affected by the criticism and harsh words directed at their son.


It really makes you stop and think about the repercussions of our actions.


Jack Watts opened a story that would address many who are the target of horrific abuse.


An overpaid Travis Cloke, the drug cheats at Essendon; you see where he’s going with this.


He also mentioned Tyrone Vickery.


Amazingly, the piece was incredibly well recepted by audiences…. So why has nothing changed?


Time and time again, the AFL and the media allows supporters to change their ways, and adapt a positive and accepting viewing style.


Sure, use stats and facts to back up the underwhelming Tyrone Vickery – the same points can be communicated just as effectively, if not better, without the colourful language.


Audiences need to take responsibility for their actions, and become role models for outsiders looking in on our game. If that’s not enough to inspire them, then why not be a role model for your children, family and friends?


High emotions and misjudgement will force people to voice cruel opinions without thinking, however the challenge has been put forward for those brave enough to rise up and accept it.


If we’re the ones who started it, it’s our duty to end it.


Enough is enough.



This post was originally published via Media Academy 


  1. Not sure about this one Marnie. I am all for “kindness and understanding” in general. But these guys are paid an average of $300k to work in a high profile, performance/results related job in the entertainment industry.
    There are many aspects to success and capacity beyond natural talent and “ability”. I know I worked in high profile and well paying jobs for a lot of years because I had the “intellectual ability” but not the “emotional toughness/endurance” to do those jobs well long term. Best thing I did was walk away to something that pays 2/3 less where I get job satisfaction.
    I am sure “Wycheproof” are looking for a plumber with $40K on the side as playing coach whenever any AFL listed player decides he just wants to play footy without the scrutiny.
    And Mitch Clark and Buddy Franklin did not fight their battles in the public eye. They took “time out” and we have no idea about the nature of their problems or the nature of their treatments/struggles. “Mental Illness” is a very broad brush, and while they have a right to their privacy there is nothing to suggest that AFL in any way contributed to their “depression” (if that was the nature of their issue) – I can suggest a dozen equally probable conditions or causes.

  2. E.regnans says

    Interesting – I agree with you Marnie.
    If it’s all about high-paid athletes being subject to scrutiny – there would be no issue.
    But it’s not.
    It’s the personal abuse and vitriol that comes via the web that is the issue.
    Separating judgment and scrutiny from the personal attacks is the trick for the opinionated.
    Separating the behaviour from the person.
    “He did an idiotic thing” versus “He is an idiot.”
    Play the ball, not the “man.”

    Scrutiny and judgement can occur without personal abuse, I think.

  3. While I like the article and good on you for writing this, I’m not sure I agree with the notion: “so why has nothing changed?”.

    A lot has changed over time and for the better. Perhaps the question might have been addressed as:

    So why has nothing changed more quickly?

    Franklin’s case was quite recent in the scheme of things and “retard” refers to an intellectual disability not a mental illness per se; neither of which mitigates what was said but just points of clarification.

    The term was a stupid thing to say and of course reflects poorly on the user; it was said to hurt, to put a player off their game, to assert dominance, again this is not to condone the behaviour more to explain it.

    Interestingly, Heath Shaw I understand has or had ADHD (doesn’t everyone these days) . I really don’t know what’s happened to him since he joined GWS. He was such a lovely boy at Collingwood.

    (Anti)- social media – that’s a whole other issue. Given schools are scrapping libraries and books these days and school librarians are being replaced by google & wikipedia then I am concerned what that does for young people thinking and research these days

  4. grapevine says

    Good on you Marnie for raising this issue. I’m appalled by some of the commentary by so-called supporters on Melbourne’s fan websites. Though I have noticed recently an increase in people ‘telling these people off’ and trying to engender more positive commentary or at least to take the personal abuse out of it

  5. Scrutiny and judgement can occur without personal abuse, I think.

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