It’s sweet to tweet
Gary Ablett should be sacked, or at the very least, suspended for half a season.
How dare he have an opinion. How dare he express it. How dare he be prepared to let the football world know he has a personality that proves him not to be a robot.
Hell, what’s football coming to? A highly decorated player volunteering truthful thoughts. An intelligent 27-year-old offering insight into what an elite football mind thinks of a certain opponent.
Well, we can’t have that now, can we?
Nup. We must have all players regurgitate the same boring, condescending, lip service and cliches.
Most reaction to Ablett’s tweet of last Friday night has been oh so typical. Senior football officials have been critical, many have talked of the tweet creating “undue pressure” on his club and teammates.
Seriously, it is time everyone in football hardened up and realised that what is said in between matches has very, very little to do with what actually happens in them.
Ablett was in Melbourne, watching on TV the Fremantle-Carlton match when he tweeted this: “[Ryan] Crowley is a joke! Play the ball, not the man! That’s why lingy (Cameron Ling) was such a great player he ran both ways! #givejuddafreekick.”
Yes, there’s history between Ablett and Crowley. But don’t for a minute think Ablett tweeted on a whim. He is extremely media savvy, and knows the power of his own words.
He has become well aware of the might of Twitter, where 48,000 people choose to know his thoughts.
And, significantly when it comes to this topic, Ablett is a keen follower of sports, and sports stars, in the United States, where it is refreshingly accepted that athletes have both personalities and opinions, and are happy to publicly express both.
Perhaps we here in Australia don’t want to fully travel down the path of the US’s trash-talking superstars. But we should be open to venturing down that path to a certain juncture.
Virtually every hour of every day in the States, a sports star is expressing a view far stronger than that which Ablett offered last Friday. And everyone is adult enough to deal with it.
NFL wide receiver Chad Ochocinco, who has 3.4 million followers on Twitter, happily taunts opponents and even NFL commissioner Roger Goodell on a regular basis.
He once used Twitter to inform upcoming opponent Darrelle Revis, who gave himself the nickname Revis Island, that: “y’all better focus until I come to town, i will be taking over the big apple for a 3 hour period, 1-4, please don’t try to cover me!” And: “I’m gonna burn you so bad you gone wish you played lacrosse!!!”
To another opponent, he tweeted: “bruh don’t pull a Rex Ryan (New York Jets coach) and write a check yo cant cash, I will play defense this week just to hit you in yo mouth fool!!!!”
And to someone else: “dont give a flying **** about your lil slogan, bring the pain crap, GTFOH, you and anybody else got a problem see me Sunday.” And: “STFU before i cave your face in with my fist boy, when I touch the field this Sunday its gone be a reality show, ultimate catches.”
Once, when asked if his knee would be right for an upcoming match, Ochocinco, who changed his surname from Johnson to “eight five” in Spanish (which is the number he wears) said: “I had sex yesterday. With some of the moves I did, I should be fine.”
Everyone in America is OK with that style of talk. There is no hysterical reaction, and no need for mopping up by club officials.
We here in AFL-land are unfortunately so far away from embracing anything of the type. And before you argue that that is a good thing, consider that such words are said nearly as regularly in AFL, only nearly always in private because of everyone being hellbent on putting image before reality.
Ablett’s words the other night were too much for some people simply because they challenged a misplaced convention that no one in the AFL needlessly rocks the boat.
Ablett has led the way on the field for six seasons now. Here’s hoping that after having the courage to tweet as he did last Friday, and then be prepared to stand by that tweet, that he chooses to lead off it as well.
Here’s hoping that very soon he tweets or says something else which gets football people out of their pathetic little tell-’em-nothing comfort zones.