Greater Western Sydney’s star Toby Greene is in serious hot water. He might think his charges are bad, but they will be nothing in comparison to the tarnished reputation that the media will bring him. Journalists and social commentators must keep one thing in mind though: his case should be treated individually.
In recent times, Collingwood’s Marley Williams and Andrew Krakouer have had serious trouble with the law. Former Eagle Murray Newman is serving in jail. Before that, Essendon’s Michael Hurley faced trouble for an incident with a taxi driver and former Demon Liam Jurrah was in all sorts with the machete fiasco. Yes, there have been football players committing serious crimes, but the media, GWS and the AFL must treat Greene’s case as separate from the others.
News Limited’s Courtney Walsh technically has done nothing wrong, as she was merely bringing up Newman and Williams for perspective. However, it is exactly the want for perspective that will blow the whole saga out of proportion.
As there are several cases of violence in the AFL, journalists will begin to play the ‘doomsday’ card and try to make out that there is a violent culture breeding within the ranks of football clubs. That sort of sensationalism will generate clicks and sell papers, but using other player’s rap sheets as precedence will surely disallow the young Giant a fair trial.
Presumably, Greene’s legal proceedings will be adjudicated by an unbiased jury, but it is what the Giants choose to do after that which will be affected by the media. The Giants may suspend Greene, stand him down or even choose to keep playing him. If the AFL finds that Greater Western Sydney’s actions are not harsh enough, then they may step in and impose a ban.
We’ve seen with the Jack Viney bump, the uproar from social media is enough to enforce a change. The AFL was pressured to give Essendon the biggest penalties of all time last year from fear of backlash.
Despite Greene’s talent, the Giants would be very unwise to keep him on their list as the fans will surely call for his head. With the sensationalism that is sure to come into the coverage of Greene’s case, it will be the comparisons to other players that will see him get the most severe penalties, at least from a playing point of view.
This is a young man’s life at the cross roads that we are talking about here. Yes, he deserves what he gets, but adding extra due to pressure from the people is unnecessary. It all comes down to the comparisons to the other players; it makes the whole situation toxic.