Darren Jolly July 25, 2012
AS I stare at the computer screen wondering what to write about this week, I'm thinking to myself there would be a few things I would love to say, but I know my honesty would get me into trouble. So there it is staring me in the face. The trouble with being honest.
I'm sure most readers and journalists will tell you that they are sick and tired of the drivel some players speak, the cliches, the boring, safe answers to the questions they are asked.
Every time we do a radio or TV interview or press conference we are briefed on what questions might be asked and what our responses should be, just to make sure that we don't cause any angst with other players or clubs.
If people want to hear honesty from players, we need to feel we won't be criticised or fined if we speak our minds.
Recently we have seen more and more players expressing their views about various events - the game they've just played in, tribunal decisions, umpires.
It seems as though we are being punished for having an opinion. I completely understand there are lines that should not be crossed. You don't bag other players or clubs. You don't comment on umpires or anything else that brings the game into disrepute.
Common sense and respect for our game should always be employed when commenting, but we should encourage more honesty from players and coaches and if we don't like something about the game we play, shouldn't we be able to talk about it?
Should we be censoring ourselves every time we are asked a question or feel strongly about something?
Two years ago, after we played a game against Geelong, I was asked a question by a journalist about what I thought about Tom Hawkins being in the ruck that night. I gave an honest response on how I felt and said that I licked my lips when I saw him come into the middle because I knew he wasn't a genuine ruckman and that he wouldn't want contact.
I was only stating the obvious. He's a great forward but not a ruckman. My little bit of honesty in that response caused a storm.
The papers talked it up, the media talked it up. But all I did was answer a question honestly.
I wrote an article a couple of months ago where I talked about my experiences with the four coaches I've had through my AFL career. I was honest about all four of them and I copped it for my opinion on Neale Daniher.
All I did was talk about how I saw him as a coach and his methods that didn't work for me personally. At no stage did I say that I thought he was a bad person or his methods didn't work for anyone else, it was just my take on him.
Some sectors criticised me for talking about my own experiences, thankfully many more appreciated my honesty and saw the spirit in which I was writing about those experiences.
Lately there has been a lot of talk in the media about the recent episodes involving a couple of Carlton boys commenting on Twitter about umpiring decisions during their game with West Coast, and also North Melbourne players having an opinion about Jack Ziebell's suspension.
I thought Jack was pretty stiff and I applaud the support his teammates and other players from other teams gave him. Why isn't he entitled to support? Why can't players have an opinion on something they feel strongly about?
It was great to see Brad Scott last week giving a frank opinion on his concerns about the direction the game is heading in. He talked about it in a considered and respectful way that should encourage healthy debate. We should see more of it.
Players are the only ones that are actually playing the game, therefore, surely our input is valuable. Look at the professional sports players in the US; it's pretty much open slather over there. They can comment on anything, and it's fine. I'm not saying we need to open the floodgates and let it all pour out, but let's see more honesty from the people playing the game.
With social media, we are seeing that players have more opportunity and a platform to express their views, it seems clear that the AFL doesn't like that. At the end of the day we are the ones putting everything on the line every single week in a sport we are all passionate about and to improve the direction the game is heading in, surely we need to have more honest opinions and input from the people actually playing it.