The ‘sick fascination’ with gay AFL players

Robert Murphy told today of the ‘sick fascination’ around the football world in regards to which and how many AFL players are gay.

“I think that’s irrelevant,” he said. “It’s about an environment, an accepting of not just people who are gay but people who come from all walks of life and a different outlook on things.

“There’s an undertone of something that I don’t really like,” he responded when asked why he believed it was ‘sick’.

Murphy’s comments came after Matt Cecchin, NRL Grand Final referee, revealed he was gay, and former Hawthorn president Jeff Kennett told be believed five percent of players shared the sexuality.

Statistics suggest that one in ten people around the world are gay, and if there were 40 or less gay AFL players Kennett believed he would be “very surprised” when interviewed on Adelaide radio station 5AA today.

For mine, homosexuality in the AFL – and more specifically, which AFL players are gay – should be a non-issue and Murphy’s sentiments are correct.

It seems hard to fathom for some, but AFL players are permitted to have private lives. It reminds me of the supposedly ‘big’ drinking scandal involving Taylor Walker having one beer at a local footy match despite being selected as a non-traveling emergency and therefore not playing that week.

The discrepancy in standards between AFL players and your average Joe is unfortunate. Little things get blown out of proportion. Think Jack Ziebell and Robbie Tarrant joining a Facebook page about girls. Bang, immediate criticism inbound.

The homosexuality debate is one of the main ‘issues’. Sure, sometimes we all wonder who of our colleagues and friends may be gay, but when it approaches the point where, as Kennett stated, it leads to fear and even depression, it’s obviously been taken too far.

I can’t speak from personal experience when I say that it would be difficult for someone who was gay to manage locker room antics, for example, being neither gay nor one with as much playing experience as some (I’ll blame my knees on that one), but I can knowing and associating with many gay people. It hasn’t changed lives nor conversation and I honestly don’t really care about their sexual preference.

It’s like a preferred colour, favourite food or choice of team – in my eyes it’s not an issue. But thanks to such a bright spotlight on AFL players nowadays, it is.

Sick fascination alright, bordering on obsession. The scrutiny on AFL players is exaggerated so much, and unfortunately that has resulted in homosexuality being near unmanageable.

Players should be able to make their own choices without such treatment. If they want to come out, that’s cool. If not, that’s cool. I won’t treat them differently either way.

In the end, the focus should simply be on their job. Playing footy. What their private life entails shouldn’t impact being a competitor in the best sport in the world.

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