One punch and you’re out!

10 August 2016

Michael Clayton, a member of Victoria University’s College of Sport and Exercise Science, has provided the AFLFA with his views on how he believes striking should be dealt with by the MRP.  Here are his thoughts:

One Punch and You’re Out

By Michael Clayton

Over recent months there has been great debate and discussion regarding the clarity of rules and consistency of the MRP and Tribunal regarding striking.

Is it clear to players what constitutes a bookable offence, how the strike be graded by the MRP and if it goes further how the tribunal will sanction a player for striking?

To further complicate matters was it a punch to the head, stomach or body, was there sufficient force and was it in play, behind play or an off the ball incident?

I think that the current grading system for deciding sanctions for striking is sound with a few teaks but I think that the basis from which it is decided if a player gets suspended or not is too grey.

The first and only consideration that need to be taken into account is did the player intentional strike an opponent or not?

If the player did intentionally strike another player then in all cases the player should get an automatic minimum one week suspension with no opportunity for reduction for accepting the guilty plea.

If this approach was adopted then it would be crystal clear for player, coaches and clubs that if you intentionally strike an opponent in play, behind play, off the ball, a jumper punch or a stomach punch the player will be out for at least one week no questions asked! All the grey area is gone.

I can hear people saying “that’s soft” or “players will miss a Brownlow Medal for a minor incident”. In a society where “cowards punches” are being condemned and authorities are looking to deal with increasing numbers of unprovoked violence in society. There are plenty of young people who wish they could take back the punch that destroyed or ended someone else’s life and ultimately impacted on many others, “I wish I had never thrown that punch”.

The AFL has an opportunity to back up its rhetoric of condemning violence and at the highest level in its sport by saying we will not tolerate a player deliberately striking another player no matter what the outcome is. We (the AFL) will not put players in a work environment where they could be subject to an unprovoked physical assault outside the rules of play. To show the young men and women who play AFL what the AFL thinks is acceptable on and off the field of play.

I love the game of AFL, the contest and the toughness of players who are bigger, faster and stronger than ever. Simple physics tells us that if they are bigger and faster when they collide there is a greater impact. That’s tough without the need for thuggery or snipping.

I grew up in the 80’s an era where round house punches, behind the play incident and all in brawls were the norm. It was a different time and there were different standards accepted. Today there are different standard in society and they should be championed and reflected in the game we all love.

To that end I say “One punch and you’re out!

Please note, the above represents Michael Clayton’s personal views.