It’s been a turbulent year for the AFL, as it grapples with some of the hottest issues in the public eye. Sex scandals, the homosexuality debate, players caught out with illicit drugs – and major upsets each week on the field.

Not for the first time, these colours are associated with something other than football.

Match attendances are healthy, newspapers are overloaded with dramatic revelations of off-field disasters and the injury rate has meant some of the younger players are being rested for fear of breakdown.

Let’s talk about sex first. Now that I have your attention, the St Kilda-pregnant teen incident has highlighted the dangers for star footballers, young fans, and the potential disruption to all of their lives.

Quite simply, if the footballers are playing with fire, they will get burnt. What goes around comes around.

There’s no doubt that many football stars fall victim to the predatory behaviour of groupies or young, starry-eyed teens/young ladies keen to latch on to a player.

When are some players going to learn they are risking their reputations with irresponsible behaviour?

I would suggest it’s time the AFL adopted more vigorous education programs to protect the stars from predatory behaviour.

What do men want? Let’s look at the human needs – money, power, sex, food to satisfy hunger, work and achievement, and time for R & R.

Players like being adored by the public and adored by women. But being a public figure carries a huge responsibility and the footballers have to restrain themselves.

If something goes wrong, the players’ names are dragged through the mud.

When news travels into the public domain, the issue explodes and it could lead to legal action. It’s not pretty.

Players carry the responsibility of role models and their social etiquette should be exemplary.

Are the clubs educating the players on social etiquette?

Players who fuel themselves with alcohol are asking for trouble and that’s when the trouble starts – girls, groupies, social drugs and fights.

We see it time and time again.

The players need a safe outlet to meet their friends in relaxed social settings.

The clubs have a responsibility to protect its players from troublemakers.  The problem is players are tempted by the trappings of fame – the glamour, functions where the beer flows, the adoring eye of women and drugs at their fingertips, if they indulge in the party scene.

Hey, everyone’s human. It’s easy to be sucked into the trappings of a privileged life.

AFL players have many impressive qualities to survive at the top level. If they ensure their behaviour is equally as good as their on-field performance, they will stay out of trouble.

There’s plenty of motivation for players at the moment, as they’re faced with an even competition. Anyone can win. This playing environment should help keep the players’ focused and challenged.

Meanwhile, off the field, the AFL and clubs should be more proactive in helping players with managing fame – the art of staying out of trouble.

AFL players are vibrant, young men who want to enjoy their lives at an exciting point in their careers. Let them enjoy themselves in a fun, but safe place – without the risk of predators spoiling their lives.

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    • Gaz says:

      07:12am | 31/05/10

      These blokesaren’t doing anything that I didn’t do between the ages of say 18 and 25. I think its only natural, and the fact that these footballers are in the public eye and perhaps are a bit more cashed up is the only difference between them and any typical Australian bloke in that age bracket. I’m not sure what you do about it other than lock them up between training sessions and games.

    • Kermit says:

      10:59am | 31/05/10

      you were getting 16 year old girls pregnant?

    • Aussie bloke says:

      03:03pm | 31/05/10

      Yeah Gaz, footballers are your typical Aussie blokes. It’s their fame that drags ‘em down.

    • Dan says:

      07:14am | 31/05/10

      Education is important, and the AFLPA should be applauded for offering numerous education courses, however it is important to remember that the AFL contains 640+ players, all men and many in their late teens to early 20’s. The reality is there will always be someone who makes a mistake and does something, that in this situation led to a pregnancy.

      BTW, is it just me or is Mark Thompson the most annoying coach in the competition. He claims that he’s frustrated that everything he says about Ablett is misinterpreted, yet he has singled Ablett our for criticism several times, and unreasonably; and in that interview recently, whilst discussing Selwood (signed for the right reasons, has integrity), it was completely obvious that he was having a whack at Ablett. Not to mention that he ‘couldn’t understand’ how Ablett could be tempted by $2,000,000.

      Whether Ablett will leave or go is up to Ablett and up to him alone. Perhaps Thompson could concentrate on coaching, instead of worrying about something he has no control over. In fact, the more comments he makes, the more annoyed Ablett might become which might affect his decision to leave. Personally, I wouldn’t blame him.

    • acker says:

      08:55am | 31/05/10

      Not saying what the 2 St Kilda players and the girl did in a “Ménage à trois” was wrong. But it is interesting is if was a 3some it indicates some kind of homo-erotic thing was going on between those 2 players wanting to share in a sexual experience. Considering Akermanis was so adamant recently that homosexuals in footy should stay in the closet. Sounds like there is a hom-erotic volcano waiting to erupt in the Saints changerooms.

    • Tim says:

      11:49am | 31/05/10

      it wasn’t a threesome.
      They slept together at different times.

    • Robert Smissen , rural SA says:

      12:49pm | 31/05/10

      Sorry Tim if they had slept with her istead of having sexual intercourse, she wouldn’t be pregnant

    • Tim says:

      01:15pm | 31/05/10

      Sorry Robert,
      i was just trying to look after some punch reader’s sensibilities.
      I suppose i could have used words like:
      %$#*, @^^! or wild monkey ___.

    • acker says:

      04:08pm | 31/05/10

      How do you know who slept or poked who where and when Tim ?
      Were you in the pack scrambling for the ball or balls as well ?

    • Tim says:

      09:16am | 01/06/10

      Well Acker,
      A. I was sitting on the end of the bed OR
      B. I actually read the news story.

      I’ll let you work out which is more likely.

    • Jenni says:

      09:46am | 31/05/10

      From what I understand of this case, the young woman in this case posed - in person and online - as a 19-yr old, though she was in fact only 16. I have nieces and family friends of that age and I *know* how much older they can look if they put the effort in. What is a young man supposed to do when he meets a nice girl? Demand a copy of her birth certificate with matching photo id to verify her age before he gets involved?

      Yes, they should have used a condom - that lack of forethought is simply stupid; both the male and female involved should be concerned not only with pregnancy but with all of the potential nasties that can be caught on a one-night-stand. However, this was an error on *both* sides, you can’t hold the male responsible because the girl *lied* to him about her age.

    • Adam says:

      11:22am | 31/05/10

      Wonderfully thought through response Jenni. It’s all too easy to lay blame on the more high profile people involved in these sort of incidents, as the media often do.

    • Tim says:

      11:52am | 31/05/10

      you obviously haven’t been following cases involving football players in recent years.
      Things such as legalities and consent don’t matter.
      According to our moral police it’s wrong. These girls are delicate flowers who could never lie or manipulate others to get what they want.
      It’s just the vibe of the thing ya know?

    • Dan says:

      02:47pm | 31/05/10

      Jenni, the thing is she WAS above the age of consent. In Victoria the age of consent is 16.* It’s actually irrelevent as to whether or not she lied about her age. The players did nothing wrong. 

      *Unless one party is in a position of authority,  such as being a teacher, in which case the age of consent moves up to 18. The players however weren’t in a position of authority, so the age of consent in this case stays at 16.

    • Cherub says:

      04:08pm | 31/05/10

      It’s wonderful how everyone dances around the issues here.  And the issues are moral issues.  The girl was of legal age to consent, so no illegality is alleged.  No one wants to say sex before marriage is morally wrong.  Well, I will and at the heart of the matter is a society which seems to thinks nothing is right or wrong, just a matter of opinion.  I wonder how a rape victim would feel about that moral assessment.  In my view all three were in the wrong because all three willingly engaged in immoral sexual intercourse (as opposed to the moral variety which occurs within marriage).  Yes people are tempted and people will fail.  But where does the media get off preaching sexual immorality and then publicly embarrassing people who follow their advice???!!!  Grrrr

    • Dan says:

      05:48pm | 31/05/10

      Cherub “No one wants to say sex before marriage is morally wrong. “

      Well, maybe not everyone believes that sex before marriage is morally wrong. I don’t.

      “Well, I will and at the heart of the matter is a society which seems to thinks nothing is right or wrong, just a matter of opinion.”

      When you speak of morality, rather than what is legal and what is not, then yes, it is a matter of opinion. I don’t have a moral problem with sex before marriage, or prostitution, or a host of other things you almost certainly do have a moral problem with. Who’s to say who’s right and who’s wrong? It is a matter of opinion.

      ” I wonder how a rape victim would feel about that moral assessment. “

      The reason rape is a crime has nothing to do with morality. It is about consent; more specifically, it is about physicall forcing someone to engage in a sexual act. That is not to say that it isn’t immoral, but rather its morality or lack thereof is not why it is singled out as a particularly heinous crime. The truth is, most crimes are crimes for non-moral reasons.

      ” In my view all three were in the wrong because all three willingly engaged in immoral sexual intercourse (as opposed to the moral variety which occurs within marriage).”

      And they obviously disagree with you.

    • George says:

      09:48am | 31/05/10

      The NRL went through the same thing last year and this year, its been amazingly quiet in terms of sex scandals, assaults and stuff like that. I think the negative publicity will be enough of a wake up call. It’ll quieten down next year I suspect.

    • Lucy P says:

      03:01pm | 31/05/10

      If there is a scandal and it goes to the media, they will report it. It’s a matter of how they will cover it up. Many scandals are hidden.

    • Jacky says:

      11:27am | 31/05/10

      Its great to see that AFL is finally getting some deserved coverage of their constant off field scandals for this year. AFL have certainly taken the mantle as the most scandalous code in the country. The spin doctors at AFL house have done a great job of watering down these incidents and set in policies to protect the image of the game (e.g. 3 strikes policy on recreational drugs) all for the almighty $$. Vlad must be proud of his achievements !

    • MJL says:

      12:41pm | 31/05/10

      What a terrible article, How do you know she was the one who initiated it all?

      They met and exchanged numbers and who knows what happened next yet you are claiming they are the victims.

      There seems to be a long list of AFL apologists reafdy to slander this girl.

    • David says:

      02:58pm | 31/05/10

      You haven’t read the article. It talks about the issues not the girl.

    • Adam says:

      03:20pm | 31/05/10

      All parties to this incident have, independant of each other, stated a very similar story in relation to how they met who initiated contact etc MJL. This article simply reports that

    • Harquebus says:

      01:18pm | 31/05/10

      If the AFL wasn’t interested in maximizing profits, they wouldn’t give two stuffs what the players do in their own time.
      The AFL is not a court yet can impose fines, sentences and impose on personal lives. I would tell them to go jump. I would also like to see onfield assaults go before a real court. Why should sports people be above the law? Why should the AFL be the law?

    • Trent Spencer says:

      03:00pm | 31/05/10

      The AFL have missed the boat on protecting players. That is why we see these scandals. They should be helping the players deal with fame. Do they?

    • Brendan says:

      04:40pm | 01/06/10

      I think the question we all need to ask is how comfortable would we feel telling our family and friends we got a 16 year old pregnant? The answer tells you if it’s morally right or wrong! Aren’t afl players the most god like role models in Australia’s sporting landscape?

    • Dan says:

      05:42pm | 01/06/10

      I think that if one told one’s family that one got a 16 year old pregnant, the bigger concern would be that one got a girl pregnant, whom one barely knows. Regardless this had nothing to do with morality. One can be uncomfortable with something (telling your family and friends that you got a 16 year old pregnant) and it doesn’t have to be morally wrong.


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