…at least in this respect.
Yeah okay, I get it – clickbait title. But I didn’t click on it, so you only have yourself to blame.
Also, I was forced to reel you in, because today I want to talk about…emotions. As I am sure we’re all aware – some painfully so – fellas usually stray away from that stuff, so like a disappointed girlfriend, I’m going to make you open up.
I consider myself an emotional guy. I cried when my team won the flag. I cried when my team lost the flag. I even cried at a relative’s funeral once. Sure, I may be seething constantly on the inside, but at least I listen to Lana Del Rey on the odd occasion.
If that makes me a massive wuss, then so be it.
But fear not lads in the reading audience, we won’t actually be talking about our feelings, alright? Because when people say someone is getting ‘emotional’ we typically think of sadness and melancholy, all that sentimental crap that we’ve pushed deep, deep down.
Instead, I want to talk about those other emotions. Anger. Frustration. Rage. You know, the cool ones that footy players have.
I remember when I was in swimming class as a nine-year-old, my teacher made me race one of the other kids down the pool. He was a few years younger than me, so he got to wear flippers and use a kickboard.
Because my mother always taught me to value fairness and equality, I rightfully thought to myself ‘this is total bullshit, why does this little shit get a kickboard?’
I’d taken the early lead, but fin-assisted Fabio behind me was catching up. When he got right on my tail, I gracefully transitioned into backstroke and gave his head a slight bit of a curb-stomping with my backwards leg kicks. I always looked out for my peers, so I was trying to educate him on the ways of the world. ‘Survival of this fittest, you little runt.’
When I got to the end of the pool, I was satisfied that a fun and competitive experience was had by all. My swim teacher, however, didn’t see it the same way.
He berated me in front of the class and called for what I still maintain was a highly unnecessary ambulance…and then he sent me home.
During the shower afterwards – as I cleaned off my bloodstained feet – I felt a great deal of shame and humiliation. This was one of the first times I can remember facing a cycle of rage that I would repeat again and again in my life.
…bare with me, I promise I’ll get to the footy soon…
Maybe I’m more aggressive than most, but I don’t think I’m alone in this. Most men have had instances in their life that tracks with the following pattern:
- Experience a slight injustice towards you
- Ego kicks in
- Anger and rage build
- Lash out at perceived perpetrator of injustice
- Cool down over time
- Feel ashamed of the way you just lashed out
- Promise you’ll never do something that stupid again
- Do something that stupid again
Part of growing up is learning how to break that cycle. The more times it happens to you, the more easily you can recognise it. The more easily you can recognise it, the more likely it is you can nip it in the bud at steps one and two.
The current narrative these days seems to be that the reason people – especially men – engage in violent and criminal behavior, is because they are socialised by cultural forces that encourage, or at the very least run apologism for these acts.
I actually think that this gets it the wrong way around.
The issue comes at step six. If there are no consequences for your display of idiocy, there is no shame and humiliation, meaning there is no reason to try and break the cycle.
On a smaller level, if I kicked or tripped over my little sister when I was a kid, my Dad would punish me for it. Obviously, it didn’t do much damage back then, but the reason I got disciplined is that if he didn’t do that, young Josef wouldn’t feel any shame and would think that this behaviour is okay in the future.
If my swim teacher didn’t reprimand me, I would’ve continued kicking people’s heads in. I wouldn’t have grown up.
The problem isn’t that men are socialised into bad behaviour, it’s that we behave badly because we are improperly socialised out of it.
We’re born evil little rambunctious devils. Original sin, baby!
Also, obligatory posting of this classic.
It’s understandable at his age, but if he’s still acting that way at twenty-eight, his parents have probably given him too long a leash.
No chicken tendies tonight for you, buddy boy.
I feel that women tend to have this problem a lot less.
I work with young mums at my job, and let me tell you, they complain an awful lot more about their boys than their girls.
Their girls are perfect little angels. If you leave them by themselves, you won’t return to the smouldering ashes of the room you left just a few moments before. One of them was telling me about how her four-year-old daughter organized her bookshelf by the colour of the book spines. She’s practically a qualified librarian already. The daughter she has no issues with, her little darling never misbehaves.
Her boys on the other hand…absolute animals. If you have any sort of free-standing statue or coat rack…you know…the sort of thing that looks like it’ll go down easy with the ol’ left-right goodnight? Say farewell to that with boys, you’ll blink and the little ratbag will have kicked it into next week. Thinking of feeding him any sort of wet or messy food? Get ready for it to be flung at the wall like a chimp hurling his shit.
I remember when I was a six-year-old, I was repeatedly charging headfirst into a couch. Why, you ask? I was setting myself up to be in the experimental group for long term CTE studies. Selflessly taking one for the team, – you’re welcome in advance, AFL.
Because I was a child prodigy at footy, one of my hits was so powerful that it sent the couch tumbling through the glass screen door behind it, shattering it to pieces. I swear guys, if it wasn’t for those darn shin splints…
If I could muscle out a couch at six, just imagine what I could’ve done in one-on-ones to Jacob Weitering at twenty. I’d be willing to bet that no six-year-old daughter has ever headbutted a couch through a pane of glass. It’s a special sort of stupidity reserved only for boys.
Anyway, both boys and girls behave worse when they’re younger and then gradually get better as they grow up. But we can all have outbursts of childish behaviour occasionally, and what better cauldron to let the inner child out than the sparkling green turf of a footy field.
This was from the AFLW Grand Final the other weekend. Stevie-Lee Thompson has just given away a free-kick for a dangerous tackle on the Dees’ Lily Mithen.
We’re at the pointy end of the third quarter, and this kick is twenty-five out to cut the margin back to just three points.
I think this free was there, but being a dangerous tackle call it’s a rather subjective, line-ball decision.
Let’s see how she reacts.
She puts her head in her hands, looks solemnly at the ground and jogs back towards goal.
The only bit of shithousery I could find in the footage was Tayla Harris giving her opponent the ol’ round-of-applause. It is a solid little move to pull out of the kit bag, but nothing too serious.
Keep in mind: Grand Final. Massive stakes. Contentious free to give away.
Now let’s have a look at the North v Dogs game on Good Friday.
Ed Richards decides he’s more of a gyros man, so he looks to block the big Souvlarkey out of the contest.
The glance across, combined with the attempt to cover it up in the last frame tells us that he definitely meant to block him, here. Look at those two hands up, not exactly an oscar-winning performance.
If I was to make a training video for young umpires to show them what a block is, this is the footage I would use. Absolutely textbook stuff, Ed.
This is the first quarter and the score is a competitive thirty-two to nil for the Dogs.
Let’s see how he reacts.
Maths wizard, Eddie Ford has seen the arms out and tells Jaidyn Stephenson that there’s about fifty metres between the free-kick and the goals. Stephenson ignores him and takes the advantage, anyway.
Richards gives the ump an ‘are you serious mate?’ Maybe he convinced himself that his acting was better than it was and he was just trying to continue the performance? But the sequence afterwards demonstrates that this isn’t the case.
The screenshots don’t do it justice here, but we get to see a thirty-second period of Richards shaking his head in disgust.
Richards is teetering along at step three. He’s perceived an injustice against him – stupidly mind you – and he doesn’t have a mechanism to cool himself down.
Again: First quarter. Round Five. Up thirty-two to six. Against North. IN A CHARITY MATCH!
Let’s go back to a game with slightly higher stakes.
Mithen is lining up for goal now, this is to bring it back to three points and it’d only be Melbourne’s third goal of the day if she slots it. She’s twenty-five out so she would like her chances. Absolutely massive kick, here…
We’ve all been there, Lily. Well, not to an AFLW Grand Final, but I’ve definitely been known to shank one like this before.
She sends it off a long way right and short, with the Crows marking it in the pocket near the boundary line.
Whenever someone mongrels one like this in local footy, the shit-talking from the opposition players follows soon after. It’s as expected as a pack of hungry seagulls when a hot chip goes astray at the beach.
This culture continues on into the men’s game, like this example on Good Friday.
Early in the game, Naughton misses one and Flynn Perez gives him a shove to let him know about his bad goal kicking form up until this point in the season.
Perez is in his fifth game of AFL footy, so he certainly doesn’t do this out of a confidence in his own abilities.
If Naughton could have this back, he’d probably hope that he could’ve whipped out the old “who are you?” But the chimp instinct catches on for the two of them so they get in the ring and start trading some jumper punches.
Being a Good Friday bout, the pair turn this into a charity boxing match.
I’m being hyperbolic here, this was only a little tussle, but I feel like this is the normal reaction to a player missing a simple set shot at goal – at least in the men’s game.
Thankfully the two of them get into a clinch off, and continue on with the footy.
Back in the granny, Mithen jogs across with her opponent to cover the kick down the line.
Because of a bad miss, Ebony Marinoff and Hannah Button are on their way to give Mithen some niggle. She just missed the biggest kick of her life, let her know about it, girls!
Seriously? Not even a little nudge?
An AFLW team would be a coach’s dream. You never cook your structure by getting sucked into stupid ego matches. Your players are like unfeeling cyborgs, robotically marching back to their place in the zone at the next contest. They’re actually being… professional.
There are rarely any fifty-metre penalties for one of the ladies getting overly hotheaded. Even when there is a fight, it gets let go almost immediately.
In this one, Kate Hore gets a rib nuzzler from Marinoff, who stands over her to try and play it off.
I couldn’t get any vision, but they have a little bit of carry-on off the play after this ball gets lobbed into the fifty. There was no whistle though so again, nothing too serious.
At the next contest, Hore throws the head back having potentially caught a high one. To me, at least, it looks like she caught a bit of a brush, but then added some mayonnaise to try and draw the whistle.
Either way, after just copping the gut punch you’d think there would be some sort of kicking off?
But yet again. Nothing.
Later in the game, Hore gets a goal over the back, where she is subsequently cleaned up by Eloise Jones.
Just to cover off our history here.
- This is a Grand Final
- Hore gets gut-punched
- Hore then either cops one to the head or sells a free
- Hore kicks a vital goal
- Hore gets poleaxed by Jones
Surely now her teammates will start getting into the Crows. Surely now we’ll see a bit of biff. Surely now that chimp behavior will rear its ugly head.
She just gets a big hug and jogs to the bench.
Can you imagine if that sequence of events occurred in a men’s Grand Final?
How about we see what happens during a home-and-away season game that is literally being played to raise money for terminally ill children.
Luke McDonald gets a bump on Lachlan McNeil before tackling him over the top.
There is no prior so its just a ball up on the top of the fifty.
Remember how I mentioned that training video before? If this was a training video for AFL players, the clip would be titled: ‘How to execute a regulation bump and tackle in a good, fair and sportsmanlike manner.’
It wasn’t too high. It wasn’t too low. There was no sneaky nipple twisters out of the umps vision. Just an honest-to-goodness average old tackle to the ground.
So you’d expect McDonald would just get up and they’d ball it up, right?
How did that, start a fight?
No, I don’t mean the beneficiaries of the charitable donations. I mean these clowns.
One of the reasons sport is such a good regulator for boys, is that it teaches you to use your aggression in a controlled manner. You can let it out, but you have to channel it into something that is within the rules of the game.
There has been a lot of talk in recent weeks about the new umpire dissent rules. The talk has been centred around what the rules should be, but not about what exactly goes through the players mind when they do start to dissent or abuse the umpire.
When a decision goes against you that you feel is unjust, suddenly the ego kicks in and all that rage and anger starts to build up. You want to lash out and release it, but it’s at that exact moment in a game of footy that you have to do one thing…
Listening to and accepting the call of the umpire helps boys in junior footy learn to regulate that instinct. You can’t let it out anymore, you just have to stand their and cop it. Even if it is the incorrect decision.
Opponent pushes you in the back and gets away with it?
Get called for holding but your opponent held you first?
Obviously, the new rule changes have gone way too far in some respects. We have to accept that an initial raw emotional reaction will take place, and if someone shakes their head somewhat after the play, or puts their arms out, a fifty metre penalty is very harsh.
But the principle of cracking down on this sort of thing is very much a good one. We need footy to teach people to cut out that cycle early, and not carry on with the abuse afterwards.
The footy romantic in me does understand that a bit of scrap every now and then is part of the fun, but we shouldn’t get too enamoured with massive fights and punch-ons like we used to. The glorification of events such as the ‘line in the sand’ match or commentators laughing about giving someone a ‘clip behind the ear’ isn’t the sort of thing that should be tolerated by our game.
So fellas, if you feel like yelling at an umpire or leaving an angry comment on this article, take a clue from your girlfriend, sister, mum, or daughter…and chill out.
Deep down you probably know she’s right.
You can get more from Josef, including articles that aren’t edited for swearing (which can make it funnier, actually) at his substack, located below.