Wednesday, 15 May 2013

◄200► Integrity: The Legacy of Fitzroy

Foreword: Thank you to our loyal readers, and those that stumble across us from time to time. This is our 200th post in less than 18 months. We also have a humble 25,000 page views in that time, as well as almost 800 twitter followers. This blog would have died after 6 months without readership. Thanks for sticking 'round.
And we couldn't have a better 200th post - a story about the AFL and founder club Fitzroy. Also included at the foot, and recommended listening is an ABC Radio documentary on Fitzroy and its ultimate death/merger.
Thanks again ,and we will 'keep crunching'! 

Once again we dip our blog into the the waters surrounding the corporate governance and integrity issues. As we have highlighted before, the AFL seem intent on installing 'integrity' into its member clubs, but reflective analysis of itself (at least publicly announced) is missing.
The AFL need to reform its own practices as well as the clubs, and integrity issues are key. Refer to these previously issued blog posts posts: Reform: The Fixture, Peter Gordon Sunday, Equalisation Day and Editorial: Trust and Integrity.

The AFL currently are dealing with issues in club land right now. Big issues, the like they have never seen before.
Following the release of the Switkowski Report, there is a genuine need for all clubs to be tight and controlled in their governance. We expect the ASADA report to be even more explosive, and result in penalties the like Australian sport has never seen before... but that is for a different post.

A fight (perhaps a small skirmish, but certainly an indication of the decay of integrity nonetheless) comes from a club who are with the AFL in spirit. A foundation club of the VFL, now cast aside from Australia's premier footballing league, but renewed and re-invigorated as a truly local community club.
A club that exists as the remnants of a proud 100+ year old tradition of football, that has been up-rooted and forced to merge.

The Fitzroy spirit and its fans are fighting for the AFL to honour an agreement made between itself and the then newly merged Brisbane Lions Football Club.
Key to the agreement is the provision for Brisbane to play 6 games per season in Melbourne, as per the documents at the foot of the The Lions Roar website, below.
March 15, 2013
The Lion’s Roar, has'uncovered a secret agreement signed by the AFL under which the Brisbane Lions were guaranteed 6 Home and Away games in Melbourne every year. 
This previously unknown agreement was signed at the time of the Fitzroy/Brisbane merger by then AFL commissioner Graeme Samuel and CEO Ross Oakley. It committed the league to fixturing the Lions for a minimum of 6 regular season games in Melbourne each year. 
This year the Lions play a record low 4 games in Melbourne. The AFL are sending them to Tasmania to play a Hawks home game and to Darwin for a Demons home game. GWS, meanwhile, have been fixtured to play 6 games in Melbourne.  The Eagles, Crows and Dockers all have more games in Melbourne than the Lions this year.
For the AFL to have failed to honour an agreement, documented, signed, and recorded, is a failing of integrity at the highest level.
It may be a small issue, concerning only a few thousand people, but the principles of integrity and fairness know no boundaries or limits.
As Richard Ings Richard Ings, former Chairman of ASADA said on SEN:
"Sport is all about integrity. Not just the actual integrity, but the perception of integrity"
It is encumbent on the leaders of organisations, society or companies, to carry out duties with integrity (not exclusively, of course, other qualities are also valued). If there is no clear direction from the top, those that follow will stray.
The AFL power brokers at HQ, the self-styled 'guardians of the code' need to recognize and address failings internally, while applying stricter codes to its member clubs, lest those clubs follow the lead and fall into lax governace practices. On small issues like this, and also on the game changing issues such as drugs and organised crime in sport. The codes keepers MUST lead the way... clearly and cleanly.
From Confucius:
"If your desire is for good, the people will be good. The moral character of the ruler is the wind; the moral character of those beneath him is the grass. When the wind blows, the grass bends." 

Because football is not only about the now, or taking it week by week.

It is about all that went before, and all that will come after.

Its about the legacy we have been given, and the legacy we will leave to the game, and to generations yet to come.

Recommended Listening!
And while we are covering Fitzroy... we ask all our blog readers to follow the link, and listen to ABC Radio National's 'Hindsight' programs' documentary: In Defeat We'll Always Try: The Death Of The Fitzroy Lions

The documentary has been run at least twice on Radio National, and is an interesting study of the era, as well as the emotions of people involved in the game.

This issue in itself would also be a worthy study in AFL integrity... maybe for another day.

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