When tame comments were tweeted by Melbourne Demon players, triggering a “please explain” from the AFL (about the Trengove decision), the call for some kind of (AFL/AFLPA) player policy/code of conduct on social networking sites arose and is now being hotly debated.
The expectation on players’ opinions via social networking platforms has now made a fundamental shift on the way they can and can’t communicate due to this action.
You can listen to the full interview here:
Here’s the transcript below:
Tony: Is it not true that the AFL does face almost a leap into the 22nd century in how they address and whether they deem it necessary to find Melbourne and individuals for the comments on the Trengrove case?
itâs a really interesting one, I think the line is really blurred between freedom of speech and also what you can and canât say. Social networking these days â everyone has a voice, everyone can share that but I suppose that in this case when the players put out there opinions, which in all of our eyes Iâm sure, are very tame opinions, they’re acting on behalf of the Melbourne Football Club as well as their own personal brand so I guess thatâs where the line gets really blurred in terms of freedom of voice.
Iâve coached at AFL level and I know how defensive clubs are about anyone attacking anything to do with the club or to do with the AFL because theyâre so intrinsically aligned with the AFL for financesâ¦ will it get to the stage where they just block players from using those social networks?
I donât think it will get to the stage where they just block the players. I believe Melbourne actually encourage players to use social networks for their own personal brands. I think itâs more a case of the clubs educating their players on what they can and canât say, just like within any media channel, traditional or social; and it will be interesting to see where the AFL Players Association steps in on this one.
Iâm a big Twitter fan, Iâm on there on a regular basis, as is Wayne Schwass as we just spoke about. Where do you see the whole thing going, for people out there who donât understand or donât really âgetâ it can you just give them a bit of an explanation why this has become such a big fad or is it something that is just now part of our general lives.
Itâs part of many peoples general lives now. Over the past couple of years weâve really made a fundamental shift in the way we communicate with people and Twitter gives the opportunity to get real-time news, right here right now and be able to voice our opinion to a large amount of people who are interested in listening. Itâs very much a part of our lives now. In terms of describing what Twitter is, itâs very much like walking into … letâs just say, a networking session – going up to people and introducing yourself and making conversation. Obviously you target people when you go to a networking session and you know whoâs going to be there and you target them about certain conversations and the same thing applies on Twitter but obviously it has that massive scale and reach that face to face networking doesnât have.
Iâm really big on local and regional clubs having the abilities to be able to get out there and find people who want to get involved in the club and I donât know how theyâd do that if they donât use a social media arm?
Itâs a huge power arm for local sports clubs because we have all these platforms at our finger tips now, and Facebook is a brilliant example of how sporting clubs can use that. Itâs free and all it takes is your time. Itâs just a case of getting players and community members to a central hub, connecting with them and then giving them an incentive to come back, whether that be fixture lists, players comments on the game, donation on PayPal for a certain community driven action â there are so many things you can do on the Facebook platform now that I believe a lot of local footy clubs are already using it. Hampton Rovers are using it well at local footy club level.
Where do you draw the line between free speech and people saying anything?
Thatâs such a good question. The line is really blurred.Â Think about it, for example, if you’re working for a company you sign off and are educated on their social media policy, what you can and canât say in your own free time about that company â itâs the same for football clubs and their players. Itâs such a grey area at the moment.Â I believe the AFL need to put some guidelines in place so players know what they can and canât say and what they can get away with saying because at the same time, at the moment we have that freedom of speech on Twitter and thereâs no right or wrong â thereâs no policy around it in the AFL from what I understand.
Yeah, itâs almost like, a âgentlemanâs agreementâ that we all sort of know the difference between having something to say and what might be deemed criticism of the AFL but itâs probably about time that the AFL firmed it up, is it not? – And actually said to the clubs, âthis is what youâre allowed to do, however, specific instances you are not allowed to comment in any way, shape or form on Twitter about specific incidencesâ¦â such as the Trengove decision thatâs been handed down.
Exactly right, and if the AFL did that then the players and the clubs would know what they can and canât say, where they stand and how to educated their players around this, at the moment thereâs no real hard and fast rules or boundaries.
To that end, people whether it be on a blog or something, that could be deemed as liable, what happens then? Whoâs responsible? Is it the individual, do you have to try and track the individual down, is it the host of the server that is held liable for anything that is basically considered defamatory?
A player might say, on Twitter, What Terry Wallace did to Andrew Filmore, he belted him, the blokeâs nothing more than a low dog heâs been doing it all his life he should be locked up in jail blah blah, but use words like âlow dogâ, âmongrelâ, âhe deliberately did itâ â what happens in cases like that?
Again, thereâs no policy in place so you donât know what you can and canât say. I think itâs up to the individual players at the moment to use their common sense, to just think about what theyâre saying on these networks and the implications it may have.Â The Melbourne Demon players tweets are tame, it’s a shame that the AFL are really hammering down on them so quickly but in the same instance everyone who uses a social networking channels has to think before they put anything out there.
Thereâs still a naivety in the way that people actually use the social media?
Yes, people put out their own opinionsÂ and which is aÂ brilliant thing, howeverÂ some donât understand the reach that they have on that opinon. And what I mean by reach, is how many people can actually see it and in such a quick time. With the players for example, putting tweets out yesterday has caused a PR nightmare in a matter of minutes for the Dees, even though I know they will deal with it in a quick and effective manner.
Here are other opinions from my tweet following – all very valid…
I’d love you to add your thoughts onto this controversial decision…hit me up below.