Yesterday, Queensland Reds player Karmichael Hunt pleaded guilty to the possession an illegal drug and was punished both under the criminal justice system and by the Queensland Reds. The punishment received by Hunt from the Reds has been widely debated. Interestingly, the views of among my circle of family and friends are completely divergent from those of people that I follow on social media. On the one hand there is a feeling that the punishment from the Reds is not on all fours with community standards whilst on the other there is a feeling that punishment is about right, if not a little harsh.
I have no interest in rehashing that debate here. Regular readers will know my views.
What I am interested in discussing though is this quote from Queensland Reds CEO (in his letter to Reds Members sent by email):
“In determining our course of action, you have my assurance that we will always regard, as our primary concern, the long-term interests of the game, our Members, fans, partners and stakeholders. However, the welfare of our players is paramount.” (emphasis added)
The statement is internally self defeating in the sense that it commences with a declaration of primacy that it then reverses in the very next sentence. Whilst I am in violent agreement that player welfare is an important aspect of the management of players by any sport club, I struggle with the notion that the interests of player welfare trump that which is in the best interests of the sporting code or those who fund the game through their membership, payment for tickets and sponsorship.
I am left to ponder:
- Whether the manner in which the Queensland Reds have dealt with Karmichael Hunt represents a new paradigm for dealing with player behaviour or whether the interests of code, the club, the members, the fans and the sponsors have always been secondary and I have just missed it in the punishment phases of the other scandals that have befouled sport in this country.
- How long will it be before a player gets into trouble again but is not punished in a fashion that has his (or her) welfare as the paramount focus and appeals his punishment. Will the Carmichael “doctrine” become an appealable (litigious) point for a player at some point in the future?
I am, of course, aware that often in these matters I do not possess the popular view point so I thought I would open this question up to the readers for a poll the results of which I will publish in a week’s time on this blog.
The poll question is this:
I look forward to seeing how the results of this poll come out in a week’s time.