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Derm’s Diaries: My stance on sledging and mental health issues


In the latest edition of Derm’s Diaries, Dermott Brereton shared his thoughts issues regarding sledging and mental health issues and also harkened back to Hawthorn’s 1988 Grand Final victory over Melbourne, a game won by a then Grand Final record margin of 96 points.

The former Hawks forward says that on-field sledging involving mental health issues were rampant back during his playing days, and that every successful team had players who did it.

Brereton says that it took him a while to understand just what some of the worst comments were doing to some of his teammates, but initially they only retaliated with violence on the field rather than report the issue to the League administration at the time.

“It took me a while to come to grips with them and there was things said to certain players in our teams who I knew it really hurt,” he said on SEN’s Crunch Time.

“Rather than think this needs to be reported, we need to have this type of behaviour stamped out, in all honesty I was thinking 'I can’t wait to play them and we will get him.'

“You just thought retribution through aggressive violent tactic. When I say violent, you can have within the rules of violent measure a bump in those days to the head was legal. You’d think about that but if the sledge was bad enough, you’d obviously think ‘I’ll do whatever."

Mark Robinson says that mental health issues are still not being widely understood by the community as a whole.

“I don’t think society is at a level where we understand mental health enough, I really don’t,” he said.

“I have a great problem about trying to learn about mental health when a person claims he’s got mental health issues and then ridicules and puts people down for fun for his living…I think we’re at a juncture.”

When questioned by Robinson over whether he understands what mental health issues are in regards to the tragic loss of family members to suicide, Brereton said he was “acutely” aware of what they were and was surprised the question was even asked by the Herald Sun reporter.

He then added that he believes that acceptable sledging should still form part of the game.

“I’m a believer that there is definitely a line of permissible activity. On one side it is drastically wrong and you just cannot go to that level, but then I believe as a society we are also making a generation of absolutely precious people,” Brereton said.

“Kerry Packer handed out a book 20 years ago to people who worked on his station and it just said ‘don’t go to the racism area, don’t go to the politics area, and don’t go to mental health issue areas’.

“There is an area where you can probably whimsically get to somebody without crossing that line but it is so fine, so blurred.

“I do believe we are becoming an absolutely precious society and I don’t like that because the Australian psyche, we are not based on that. The Australian male is not based on that. Having said that, I am acutely aware about mental health issues, especially with my family, can be an absolute no-go zone.”

Listen to the rest of the interview below, including Derm's memories of the 1988 Grand Final victory.

Dermott Brereton Crunch Time Mark Robinson

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