Now I wouldn’t know Scott Pendlebury, vice Captain of the Magpies (Collingwood) AFL team, if I fell over him. But apparently he is well known enough to be the victim of an unprovoked attack that saw him punched in the back of the head, and propelled forward onto his face on the footpath. The result was concussion, broken teeth and cuts to his face. Fortunately he was feeling well enough to return to training today.
What really bothered me about this story was this:
Collingwood boss Eddie McGuire this morning suggested the club may organise self-defence classes for players following the alleged attack.
“These days we’re seeing a lot more people think (footballers) might be a good scalp… knowing that the first reaction of a footballer is to not get into trouble rather than defending himself,” Mr McGuire told SEN today.
Now I don’t have mad ninja skillz, so I’m no expert, but I’m guessing that unless they can teach you to feel minute air current movements in the air behind your head moments before the impact of a fist or object, then no amount of self defence training is going to help against an unprovoked, unexpected attack from behind. This is just our old friend victim blaming rearing its ugly head again. Some football codes have gone to a great deal of trouble to re-fashion their image and players who break the rules are, on most occassions*, being dealt with swiftly by team management and where necessary by the legal system. Players increasingly don’t get involved in brawls and try to walk away so that they don’t bear the brunt of media attention and team displeasure. As Mr McGuire has said though this often makes them a target for a particular type of male who feels that in order to prove himself he has to take someone else down. If that someone is ‘famous’ all the better.
What I would like to see is a campaign to stamp out this type of violence altogether. Something like the “No one thinks big of you campaign” by the NSW RTA to combat speeding by young drivers. An “Attacking people you may have seen on TV doesn’t make you a man” campaign. If we can do it for speeding, drinking and drugs why can’t we do it for violence? Otherwise we are just perpetuating the problem.
*Unfortunately most occassions doesn’t always include violence against women, and women who are raped by football players are still consistently vilified for speaking out.