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Players need crucial off-field behaviour education

By Bill Potts - posted Thursday, 24 March 2011

It is a sobering reflection on the state of our male- dominated football codes when their reputation can be torpedoed by a 17 year old girl with just a mobile phone full of salacious images and access to internet social networking sites.

In recent days we have had the girl at the centre of the St Kilda AFL nude photos scandal announcing a new plan to release video she claims shows footballers taking party drugs and encouraging a teammate to hit a woman.

Meanwhile the AFL’s most powerful player agent Ricky Nixon has his job and reputation on the line, and police running DNA tests on his underwear after the same girl levelled sex and drug allegations against him.


True or not it’s another shocker blow to football clubs and by extension, the public reputation of all players. Photos of naked footballers cavorting at parties, a photo scandal of a player simulating sex with a dog, sundry claims of girls being used as sex objects. Star players arrested for public disorder. The list seems endless.

Player reputations are in the gutter as time and again we read of allegations of player misbehaviour, sexual assaults, sleazy behaviour and the community groans and wonders how the clubs let their celebrity players get into such situations?

It seems to be a nationwide problem so what are sports clubs doing to ensure their high profile players and officials are aware of the legal risks they face from off-field partying?


It seems there is a crucial need for a life skills education course for young men signed as instant sporting celebrities, paid a lot of money and turned loose on a community where their fame can draw fans, hangers-on and groupies.

The catalogue of player misbehaviour around Australia in the past year shows sporting clubs – specifically football clubs - still have a way to go in educating their players of their wider community responsibilities.


Simplistic as it may sound you have to ask if clubs have called in lawyers to brief their testosterone –powered players?

Number one lesson for any sportsman is that they are not immune from the law. If they commit a crime, they can be charged with an offence, just like any other member of the community. They do not have immunity because they are a celebrity sports player.

Only when this lesson gets through can we build on it and devise proper risk aversion programmes.

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About the Author

Bill Potts is a Brisbane criminal lawyer.

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