AFL: The Eddie McGuire – Caroline Wilson saga has been a huge issue in the AFL and wider community this week.
Collingwood coach Nathan Buckley says it has had an effect on the Magpies playing group.
WHEN Waleed Aly speaks, people listen.
We’ve seen him on our TV screens making impassioned speeches on issues as wide ranging as troubles in the Middle East, negative gearing and the milk crisis in Australian agriculture.
He also knows his sport.
A diehard Richmond supporter, Aly appeared on ABC program Offsiders on Sunday and, unsurprisingly, had an insightful point to make about the furore that erupted over Eddie McGuire’s comments about female AFL journalist Caroline Wilson.
Speaking on Triple M radio at charity event The Big Freeze at the G on the Queen’s Birthday public holiday, the Collingwood president said he would pay $50,000 to see Wilson stay under a pool of ice water at a similar event. North Melbourne chairman James Brayshaw laughed at the so-called “joke”, while former AFL player Danny Frawley said he would volunteer to hold her underwater.
McGuire and co were later slammed for the comments, but there was something about the whole saga that puzzled respected journalist and broadcaster Aly.
“I thought it was interesting the way Triple M was not the story, even when it did become a story,” Aly said.
“Collingwood became the story, which I thought was strange because it wasn’t actually a Collingwood issue.
“There’s this weird double-hatted thing that McGuire has going on being a broadcaster and a president. James Brayshaw has that as well at North Melbourne.
“Danny Frawley was actually the one who probably said the most lamentable thing in the whole scenario but he’s not a club president, so I thought there was a story elsewhere in this about the cultures of broadcasting.”
Holden is a commercial partner of Collingwood, and the company announced it would be reviewing the terms of its sponsorship and whether it would continue to be associated with the Magpies.
That, combined with the fact Collingwood’s monthly board meeting was coincidentally scheduled for last week, meant the football club was put under the microscope as the whole affair unfolded.
But, as Aly alluded to, less attention was placed on the radio station and why nothing was done about the comments until sports writer Erin Riley wrote about them days later.
Richmond announced it would boycott Triple M for the week, with players not speaking to the network, but it was the only club to take such a position. AFL boss Gillon McLachlan said it was “odd” the station’s management hadn’t taken a position on the incident midway through last week, but they issued a belated apology on Wednesday June 22.
Aly was also concerned with another aspect about the exchange between McGuire, Brayshaw and Frawley.
“The thing that bothered me immediately when I heard it, aside from the obvious, was that it sounded so familiar,” Aly said.
“We’ve all heard these conversations on air before, not always directed at women — sometimes directed at each other or other groups that are not as empowered as the middle aged white men that tend to have these conversations — but we’ve heard these conversations before and it’s just so familiar.”
However, he said the end result was a positive one both for the AFL and society as a whole given the public outcry that followed.
“In the end I think it’s an optimistic week because I’ve never seen a response quite like this that filters across many organisations and across the public.”
Offsiders host Gerard Whateley shared this opinion, saying those that shared the opinion of Footy Show panellist Sam Newman — who called Wilson “an embarrassment” on the program on Wednesday night — were in the minority.
“Sam Newman gave voice to what looks like the lunatic fringe,” Whateley said. “If we contain it to the football world I think that used to be the majority, but I don’t think that’s anywhere close (to the majority now) on the evidence of the week.”