Another week in the lead up to another round of AFL footy, and yet another controversy generated by Sam Newman, on Channel 9’s AFL Footy Show. In his time on the long running show, Newman has engaged in too many sexist, racist and homophobic segments and remarks to list in full. But a short primer for those not familiar with his work, Newman’s worn blackface, he’s assaulted the likeness of a top female journalist on the show, asked another to get on her knees, and he compared a Malaysian man, and then tennis player Serena Williams to a monkey, and described NFL’s first drafted gay player Michael Sam’s kiss with his partner as ‘annoyingly gratuitous’ and has criticised, continually, the efforts of the AFL to be a more inclusive game, bemoaning ‘political correctness’.
On this week’s episode, not for the first time, Newman took aim at the LGBT community. Newman first deliberately mis-gendered Caitlyn Jenner, referring to her as ‘he’, and then ‘corrected’ himself by changing the he to ‘it’.
There will no doubt be a social media storm, perhaps several articles like this one, condemning Sam as a ‘Neanderthal’ and a ‘dinosaur’ from a bygone era. Perhaps there will even be a grudging apology from the network, but more likely, as shown on past form, there will simply be a comment about ‘irreverent satire’ that makes the show so ‘great’.
Channel Nine will clearly not take action against Newman, the dwindling ratings the show manages to draw, despite multiple offences against human decency – not political correctness as Newman would have you believe – mean that Newman will keep doing what he does, and will suffer no consequences of any note.
You know who can exert consequences for these repeated insults, which cause genuine harm and distress in the community? The AFL, and the AFL Players association. They have both the power, and the responsibility to stop supporting the AFL Footy Show.
A statement saying that the AFL and AFLPA support inclusivity, and condemns Newman’s remarks is no longer enough. AFL officials should no longer appear on the AFL Footy Show, AFL Players should no longer appear on the show. True condemnation of the sexist, racist, homophobic and transphobic show must come from within the organisations who are the whole reason the show exists in the first place.
I have watched the sport I love take great steps over the years to being more inclusive of race, gender and sexuality, but here is an opportunity for the AFL and AFLPA, who are happy to promote and profit from inclusivity, to actually take a genuine stand and censure the AFL Footy Show by refusing to associate with it.
I can only hope that my sport, and the men and women who play it, don’t disappoint me again, because while painting rainbows on a 50m arc and hosting another pride game in Round 18 are fantastic, I need the organisation I support to take a stand against hate.