The actions of Tigers Nick Vlastuin and Jayden Short on teammate Mabior Chol were once considered locker room antics but  longer, says Mark Robinson.
The actions of Tigers Nick Vlastuin and Jayden Short on teammate Mabior Chol were once considered locker room antics but longer, says Mark Robinson.

'Footy players' touch-up actions on teammate wrong'

OPINION

The football locker room is reality TV.

It is beamed into households around Australia and as such the behaviour of footballers is scrutinised.

What Nick Vlastuin and Jayden Short did to Mabior Chol - sticking a finger into his anus area, grabbing at his backside and slapping at Chol's penis - was once and roundly considered locker room antics.

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Jayden Short grabs at Mabior Chol’s penis.
Jayden Short grabs at Mabior Chol’s penis.

 

Chol reacts to Short’s action.
Chol reacts to Short’s action.

 

 

Those antics are now unacceptable, especially in front of cameras.

The more rigid assessment of what happened is football clubs are a workplace, so workplace standards have to be adhered to.

Pick another workplace, your workplace, and a) Is that something you would do to a colleague? and b) Is that something you'd like having done to you?

You know, while you're having a 10am coffee, just reach around and prod the anus of your workmate. Better still, flick his dick a couple of times. Just for fun, of course.

Would that be tolerated?

But it has to be said football clubs are a different workplace. There's nothing normal about being a footballer.

They live in their own little world - maybe that's the problem? - and the relationships they build are peculiarly footballer-ish.

That doesn't mean Vlastuin and Short's actions towards Chol weren't stupid, childish and embarrassing.

Chol's reactions have been described as him being deeply offended. I'd say more deeply annoyed.

 

Nick Vlastuin probes at Chol’s anus.
Nick Vlastuin probes at Chol’s anus.

 

Chol reacts to Vlaustin’s action.
Chol reacts to Vlaustin’s action.

 

 

But it's the kind of dumb behaviour which has opened them up to sexual assault allegations and racist allegations.

The race card is a stretch.

The assault card can't be ignored, however.

What happened is against the law, although football has always been its own frontier when it comes to law which is another layer of complexity.

Why, when a player punches another player, is he or she not charged with assault?

Back to Vlastuin and Short. They are being scrutinised from a moral-code perspective and as such are being painted as racist and sexual offenders. That is ridiculous.

They should be painted as dimwits, nothing more, nothing less, with a terrible sense of the environment they were in.

Childish behaviour, like it or not, resides at football clubs and mostly every bloke who has played the game at every level could tell a story about similar "harmless fun".

 

Chol said he isn’t concerned by his teammates’ actions. Picture: AFL Photos/Getty Images
Chol said he isn’t concerned by his teammates’ actions. Picture: AFL Photos/Getty Images

It doesn't make it right, but let's be honest, childish behaviour exists in every group of mates - male and female - and if those examples of childish behaviour were made public, the level of embarrassment would be extreme.

Still, there are some women and men in society who believe the locker room has a sick culture, where regular rules don't apply.

The AFL had to respond and condemn the behaviour.

It's why Richmond didn't ignore it, either.

The AFL and Richmond know their players are role models and they don't want kids doing the same to their teammates when they sing the song after a victory.

And, of course, it looked plainly idiotic.

The spotfire Friday largely forgot the single most important person in all of this and that is Chol.

He said he didn't have an issue with what took place. That's important to note.

Originally published as Robbo: Race card a 'stretch', but Tiger actions 'dumb'