These nobs are going to cost us all a drink
Those of us who enjoy the occasional night on the razz often have a special outfit that we like to wear when hitting the town. Some years ago I worked in a newsroom which had a communal purple silk tie which was shared around like the yellow jacket in the Tour de France. When worn it became code for: I am leaving the office, and may be some time.
Carlton’s Brendan Fevola is in a league of his own when it comes to his fashion regimen. This elite A-grade sorting superstar seems reluctant to leave the house unless he’s frocked up, literally, in a pink petticoat, felt bowler hat with flowers in it, and a foot-long sex toy which he either hangs out the front of his pants or waves above his head.
He did it at the end of last year’s season, snapped by a casual punter who recognised him as he stood looking like something out of A Clockwork Orange on a Melbourne CBD street corner in broad daylight.
And he did it again this week at the club’s Mad Monday celebrations/commiserations, photographed this time inside a Melbourne pub swinging his unusual fashion accessory in the air.
His defenders would say that he’s only done it twice. You could also argue that twice is starting to constitute a pattern of behaviour. It does look like the Blues now-traditional folding in (or before) September triggers a Pavlovian response from the star forward where he immediately starts fossicking through the dresser drawer in readiness for a session on the squirt.
On the one hand, good luck to him. No-one got hurt and nobody broke the law. But the fact that nobody got hurt nor broke the law is where this little get-together differed from so many other drunken end-of-season shindigs which are happening this month both at the elite level, and at the suburban and country level for weekend teams celebrating or commiserating the end of their year.
I have written a couple of columns defending the right of people to drink to excess. But I’d admit - the defenders of this freedom are under siege because it’s becoming more and more apparent that many people are unable to do so without often shocking consequences.
And it’s the strange nexus between sports - which in large part are about deriving enjoyment from exercise – and the hand-in-glove relationship with binge-drinking where the problem is often the most acute.
It is weird that men who spend most of the year keeping themselves in peak physical condition will then go out as a team and drink themselves into a collective coma.
Two of the problems with this annual orgy of excess are that the drinking is often done not to celebrate a victory but to mourn a loss - where players feel cheated, hard done-by, frustrated and angry. And the drinking is invariably done in a public place where some 1000-capacity nightclub or an esplanade beer garden becomes the new stadium wherein athletes can display a different kind of prowess en masse.
The drinking after defeat thing is ridiculous – not only is it a bad look for the team, leaving the fans to wonder whether their stars have really got their hearts in it, but it means that a bunch of fuming blokes get loaded at a time when their judgment is already a bit awry anyway.
The altercation which involved players from the Essendon Football Club last week after their 15-goal thumping by the Crows was ultimately not blamed on any members of their team but cocky members of the public who were big-noting themselves.
But despite their lack of culpability, I’d say that after the drubbing Essendon it would have made more sense for them to be in the hands of psychologists rather than publicans. Certainly sending them out on the streets of SA where the entire city would have been ready to ridicule them was not the smartest way for a young, humbled side to deal with a pounding like that.
The old maxim that you should never drink to drown your sorrows is a good one in life and should also apply to sport.
Then there’s the question of setting – and the way in which teams, professional and amateur, gravitate to the most jam-packed public places so their yobbo behaviour finds an audience. It’s the notoriety that makes someone like Fevola want to stand like a rabbit on a Melbourne street corner. If you were sitting around in a mate’s backyard, you would probably think twice about whether you actually needed to take your sex toy along.
If these annual end-of-season rites of passage continue the way they have always done, the end result will be that governments throughout the western world intervene to break the nexus between alcohol and sport.
It will have tremendous financial impact on the games we love. It will subject us all to a form of censorship – no more Bundy Bear or, if you’re after a more creative South Australian example, no more inspired marketing such as the 1997 Coopers Ale T-Shirt which read simply “This Saturday We’re Making Victoria Bitter.” It will also impinge on our own freedom to drink anything at all when we’re at a game.
This week the British Medical Association released a report calling for an immediate ban on all alcohol advertising and sponsorships involving sports, as well as music concerts.
The report said that the alcohol industry spent around AU$600 million on sports advertising in the UK each year and was second only to the finance sector in terms of its sponsorship dollars.
We already have people in our Senate such as Family First Senator Steven Fielding who are lobbying for such a ban here, and Health Minister Nicola Roxon has said - chillingly - that she wants to have a debate about alcohol too, this latest position from the Brits will establish a foothold here.
We should not be surprised, as for every Fev who’s wandering about half-cut in a petticoat, or every bloke called Chook from the local club who gets done for relieving himself in an alley-way on a footy tour, it’s all just ammo for the wowsers who want us all to register at the local government health department as “alcohol users” and wear helmets whenever we open a six pack in case we slide off the deck chair and bang our little heads.
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@bigwordsblog Best night I had there I won backstage passes to meet Warrant, of Cherry Pie fame. Didn't happen in the end, though!
I think someone's had some enunciation training: http://t.co/bVmzCpjqVa
@bigwordsblog argh YOU just took me back to Lennies! Damn. Now I feel like Midori.
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