29 August, 2009

An own-goal on reducing violence?

The violence on Melbourne streets is a major problem and I fully support the efforts to have a higher police presence, but I found an attempt at activism held today rather bizarre. ABC News reported that a number of off-duty police were at today's Hawthorn vs Essendon game at the MCG asking people to sign petitions calling for more police. Nothing wrong with that. The bizarre bit is the fact that were using football fans as an example of how people can go out and have fun without being violent. To me, this is a load of toss.

The only reason football goers aren't violent themselves is because they get all their violent tendencies out by proxy on the ground. Let's be honest - regardless of whether it's on a footy oval or outside a King St nightclub, for every punch that's thrown, there are dozens of others getting their rocks off over the act and egging it all on. Football does nothing to reduce the culture of violence. If anything, it promotes it.

At the very same game that the petitioners were campaigning outside, one player was knocked unconscious, which led to an all-in melee (which is politically correct AFL-speak for brawl). And this is the place they chose as an example of well-behaved crowds? I bet nobody left the game in disgust.

Don't get me wrong, I'm for harm minimisation. People have violent tendencies. We're never going to eradicate that, so we might as well manage it. If it helps people get it out of their systems by going to a stadium and watching a few dozen blokes who chose to be in that situation going at it, then that's fine by me. Better that, then hospitalising some poor bugger who accidentally spilt your drink. Just don't tell me that football crowds are in it for good clean fun, because I don't believe it.

Check out these highlights and lowlights from today's game and see if you think it encourages people to reject violence. Such scenes are not atypical of any AFL match.


  1. You have to understand that not everyone in the crowd is looking for violence. There are people just looking for fun, family with kids. The people you see making music and screaming are known as organized supporters and they're the ones that fight.
    I don't think football promotes violence unless you're talking about US football. US football is that nonsense wrestling. Soccer is the real football invented in England and still known as football all around the world. That US crap sucks! I go to a stadium not because I have violent tendencies and I am looking for fight. I go to support my team.

    "The bizarre bit is the fact that were using football fans as an example of how people can go out and have fun without being violent."

    It's not so bizarre. All they are trying to do is show people that if some people can have fun at the stadium, everybody can. Not all people go to a football match looking for fight. They're using football fans because football is probably popular. If more common people go better, because it will stop the organized people somehow. They won't fight with people that don't want to fight, right? They won't fight with a 10 years old.

  2. Obviously you can't make such a broad generalisation about so many thousands of people. But equally, it is a violent game and therefore one has to be attracted by that to be a fan. Not a judgement, just an observation. Regarding 10 year olds, parents at little-league games are some of the worst offenders.

    Every Monday night, we hear news from the AFL "tribunal" to hear which players have been found guilty of punching others and which ones have "beaten" the charges. I know of no other sport that requires its own judiciary.

    I find it very interesting that the least violent form of football - soccer - has the most violent fans. I don't think this is a coincidence. You don't hear of rugby hooligans.

  3. Soccer is not as violent as US football in the field but people are sickly passionate and they hate each other because of it. In my country the violence comes from the organized supporters. Organized fans are like gangs. There was a time when people couldn't go out wearing their team shirt. I was insulted one time because of my shirt, lol. Things changed a little bit because now the teams can be punished for the animal actions of their supporters. Punishment is the key.

  4. NRL has it's own judiciary. And the commentators get excited when there actually is a brawl because it "doesn't happen very much anymore, what's wrong with a bit of biffo?", which I totally don't agree with. I enjoy watching NRL, judge me how you will, and it's not because of the violence, it's for the brilliant passing and athletic skill displayed by some of the players.

    Soccer has the most violent spectators for 2 reasons (these are my own theories mind you)...
    1. They sit for 90 mins waiting desperately for someone to score and most of the time they never do. SO you have thousands of drunk men with no release for their tension in the game because it's very rare for a goal to be scored, so it gets released after the game by beating each other up.
    2. Soccer is a sport of 'divers' and when members of the opposing team constantly take dives to earn cheap penalty shots the oppposing teams fans get the shits. Because both teams do it both teams fans get fired up.
    That's my theory anyway!

  5. I'm inclined to agree about soccer and I would add to it the fact that there isn't much biffo on the ground, which can aslo serve as a release for the fans.

    I certainly don't judge anyone for whatever entertains them (within reason, of course!). The attitude of the commentators you quote is the problem. What's wrong with a bit of biffo? They should ask some of the victims. One more thing to file under "It's OK if you're a footballer."

  6. Mrs P!

    Your theory about soccer's violence is funny but it makes some sense but soccer is not about dives. People don't play to get penalty kicks. Soccer is more complex than that. You must have good vision of the field and the situation and position of the players to score. It's not only kicking and diving.

    That's why I like soccer, it's not a very easy sport so when someone score, it's a big explosion.

    I watched the World Cup for the first time when I was 11, in 1994, the World Cup of USA. The final was beautiful and as you said, no score hahaha. There was extra time. No score. Penalty kick is the most stressfull thing that can happen in soccer. It's unpredictable. So we had penalty kicks. I didn't believe my team would win at all. The commentator was a crazy man and I think he made people even more excited.


    I stopped watching soccer in 2002 because of the final of the World Cup. I never felt so stressed about something before. We won again but it affected my health. I don't want to have high blood pressure because of soccer. Many people have heart attack at the stadiums.

    I think people like things that excite them unfortunately. We like a little bit of pain, we need to scream for something. I just think people shouldn't take things so personal and I still believe these violent people should be punished because we have the right to go to a stadium and return home safe and alive without being attacked, stalked etc.

    Back to the topic, as I said, it is a bit ironic but who knows the intentions behind it...Maybe they have good intentions, maybe they want more friendly people at the stadiums etc.

  7. I think the problem with penalty shootouts is that it's a completely different game to the one they have just been playing for however long.

    I like Jimeoin's solution - multiball!
    If there hasn't been a result at the end of extra time, throw a second ball onto the pitch. If there's still no result after another ten minutes, throw a third ball in. Just like pinball. That would be exciting.

  8. I knew there must be a reason I've never liked football/soccer. And I still don't understand American football.

    Now rugby's a game. Very civilised.