A farce, according to the wisdom of Wikipedia, is “a comedy which aims to entertain the audience by means of unlikely, extravagant, and improbable situations”. That is exactly what the AFL tribunal system has become. You only have to look back as far as this week to see the ridiculousness of their decisions. Franklin was suspended for one match because he made head high contact to Akermanis, who had the ball and Franklin did everything he could not to make the contact any worse than it was. Contrast that to a NAB Challenge match where Colin Sylvia was cleaned up by a head-high bump, which broke his jaw. Sylvia obviously didn’t see Kennedy coming for him and wasn’t expecting contact. Sylvia is only set to play this week, an injury that has lasted a whole month. Kennedy wasn’t even banned from playing for one moment or receive any points.
Franklin’s action were incidental and made impact to Aker. Kennedy ran 15 meters to clean Sylvia up. The difference in the intent and outcome couldn’t be more polarised. But their sentences are the wrong way around for logic. You could make a case that Franklin did deserve the ban, but they Kennedy should have been set aside at least for a week, probably more.
Even more curious in all of this is that the AFL would not release tapes it had of the Sylvia/Kennedy incident. Why on earth would they do that? What are the AFL playing at? I can think of some theories and none of them serve the game or the players any good.
These situations don’t stand alone. David Hille took out Bartel with his elbows apparently going for a mark, which is fine, apparently. Hawthorn’s Osborne smashed in to the head of Joel Selwood in round 2 and receive a one match ban.
The result of all these inconsistent decisions is that players, clubs, coaches and fans have no idea what the rules are. They seemed to be changed at least monthly with no consultation, consideration or communication. The tribunal system is not acheiving its goals because of this.
Nick Maxwell has no idea what the rules are and is trying to take the bump out of his game because of it. It’s pretty impossible to not bump in to someone when you are trying to tackle them and running full speed at them. Your only two options are bump or tackle. If you tackle them when they don’t have the ball it will be a free down field. If you bump them fairly then nothing happens. If you bump them and get them slightly high they get a free kick but does the bumper get rubbed out? I’m not sure. I’d like to know if anybody is sure.
I said at the start of the article that the tribunal system was a farce, it is, except I’m not laughing.