I spent the weekend in Canberra, visiting my money, and so missed the appearance of “behavioural awareness officers” at the football.
As an Essendon member I go to a lot of games and see crowd behaviour on a regular basis. Referring to an umpire as a “bald-headed flog” is at the lower end of insults I have heard. Most insults thrown at the umpires usually involve the words “blind” and the dreaded c-word that I dislike being used as an insult. Some insults are genuinely funny and sometimes the target of the insult has it coming.
Normally, however, the crowds are good natured and everyone has a good time. I can’t say I’ve ever witnessed really poor behaviour. In the past couple of years or so there have been media reports of fights breaking out and I think everyone agrees that is unfortunate and not something people want to see.
Yet the AFL apparently are cracking down on poor behaviour at the football.
Some members of the security staff, who wore bibs identifying them as “Behavioural Awareness” officers, patrolled the aisles and appeared to issue several verbal warnings to fans who were deemed to be barracking in an inappropriate fashion.
The weekend’s activities proved a flashpoint in a season where there have been claims of cheer squads being silenced and undercover operatives being deployed to monitor behaviour, with fans clearly agitated by the manner they are being treated.
Treating your paying customers poorly is never a good long-term strategy.
The challenge, however, is this: who are the paying customers?
- The people who actually join clubs and/or the AFL?
- The people who turn up to matches on the weekend?
- The people who consume the games via media?
If the AFL is making its money from the media rights it might not matter how poorly they treat the people who actually attend the games.
I expect we’ll see more of this over time – a growing separation between the fans and the paying customers will see the fans being treated poorly.