Yesterday, I responded to comments from SEN’s Andy Maher which criticised the AFL for its lack of promotion for the Women’s Game in the lead up to the 2019 season starting.
A statement I completely disagreed with and went as far as to say that no sport in Australian history has had as many leg-ups as AFLW in its first two seasons of existence.
You see, the AFLW competition and the players crave the publicity, they love all of the positive aspects (of which there are many) to be on display to the world.
Just yesterday, The Advertiser - the main paper in this state - had the whole back page of sport dedicated to the Crows’ leadership group announcement and a practice game report. I bet most of the Crows’ players read this with a beaming smile on their faces.
But, like my comments yesterday, the minute there is a sliver of negativity, the players and some sections of the media will completely throw the toys out of the cot.
Like this tweet from Geelong’s Melissa Hickey yesterday.
And this from Chyloe Kurdas.
Finally, @kanecornes take some time to sit down with @erinphillips131 and ask her about the heartache she went through in having the give up footy simply because she was female when she was 13. #privilege makes us blind the experiences of others.— Chyloe Kurdas (@chyloe14) January 21, 2019
And what about Mo Hope’s performance at a Grand Final function when the longest serving coach in AFL history dared to be slightly critical of the rules of AFLW.
Instead of proudly arguing her point with Mick Malthouse, she spat the dummy and embarrassingly stormed out of the room, labelling the comments disgusting.
It’s a real conundrum for those of us following, covering and assessing the women’s game in the media. Do we call it as we see it and be critical of the standard, skill level and lack of scoring when it is warranted?
Or do we just have to toe the line and always put a positive spin on it, at risk of being hounded out of town by the vocal army of players who all now have their own media platforms?
AFLW, so far, has been a resounding success.
The players are becoming stars in their own right, they carry themselves with class off the field and their commitment to the contest and tackling can only be admired.
I also love that the young girls growing up can have a dream to play in the AFL, just like I did when I was a kid.
But with success and heavy coverage comes a healthy level of scrutiny and it can’t always be positive.
It’s time for the AFLW players to toughen up and welcome the constructive criticism and feedback. Time for them to take the good with the bad.
Until then, most people will walk on egg shells too scared of the public backlash they will receive for speaking the truth.