What happens on the field, stays on the field.
It is a truism of sport in that is very close to the hearts of Aussie footy fans.
Or at least it was.
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The farce that was ‘Mt Franklin-Gate’, and the post-incident reaction to the penalty handed down to Rabbitoh George Burgess is slowly starting to convince me that this pillar of sporting culture is all but lost.
For those of you who haven’t heard, the NRL community has been divided by a most idiotic incident this week – the hurling of a water bottle by Burgess from the bench, in the general direction of opposition forward Kane Evans last Friday night.
As soon as it happened all I could think about was the Austin Powers villain OddJob and the line ‘honestly, who throws a shoe’.
Personally I thought the incident was hilarious, that a grown man playing an ultra-aggressive contact sport who could easily exact any number of revenge plots on the field either that night or next time they played could become that frustrated (and be that stupid) that in his mind the only sensible course of action was to toss what was in his hand.
When the penalty was finally handed down yesterday the rugby league world went into meltdown.
Cries of ‘how can this happen’ and ‘the punishment is just ridiculous’ were everywhere and comments like ‘he would have been better off punching him he would have got just 1 week’ spread like wildfire.
Former legends of the game like Greg Alexander, Mathew Johns and even his brother Andrew Johns all publicly condemned the two-week suspension yesterday.
I just can’t for the life of me understand why.
Everywhere you go, everyone you talk to are using these ridiculous comparative arguments to highlight what he did wasn’t that bad.
We’ll let me have a go.
Sure, compared to murdering a few dozen people, throwing something (anything) onto a footy field short of a hand grenade is not that bad.
But when compared to NOT throwing anything at all, well then tossing a bottle is VERY bad.
How about we start to judge acts not on whether or not the bottle would have maybe hurt someone, or by comparing one act to another.
How about we judge an action based off the ‘How stupid was it and how badly would we like to discourage anyone from every doing it again’ principle.
In this case the answer is unbelievably and very.
Verdict – two weeks.
Not only should we be very mindful that this is all Burgess’ fault in the first place, we should also see that such a punishment as he received will ensure that next time a benchy wants to chuck a tantrum, drink bottle or deck chair onto the field, they will think twice.
After thinking twice they will hopefully channel that rage into focused aggression, turn to the coach and politely ask that they be allowed to go back onto the field to ‘settle’ the matter.
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