How are footy clubs run? Q&A

Thoughts on how your club is run?


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76woodenspooners

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In the aftermath of some of the recent upheavals at clubland, there seems to be a bit of confusion about how clubs are run and what the people do. It’s difficult to have any kind of rational debate about whether the President / Board / Footy Director should be sacked if there’s no understanding about what those roles actually are.

I’ll have a crack at what I reckon it is with my very amateur understanding. Feel free to provide your own version. All clubs will be different, and I’m basing my knowledge of what I know about my club (which may have no bearing on reality :) )

The members:. At the very top of the whole structure are the members. In particular, they are the voting members. Not all members are necessarily voting members - Flossy the Sheep may have her pet membership fully paid up but it doesn’t mean that she has any control over her club what-so-ever. Voting members are typically members who are allowed to attend Annual General Meeting(AGM) (Held annually sometime between October and February) where the board tables the financial auditor reports and reports to the members anything of interest about the running of the club. In theory the AGM is the place where new board members are voted in, but in practice it seems to rarely happen ... but that’s a discussion for another rabbit hole. Sometimes rival tickets are put together to take over the board - the most recent being the “Focus on football” ticket at Richmond around three years ago, but I’ll let the tigers folks speak to what happened with that.

The President / The Chairman. Some clubs call the role President (Eg: Collingwood), other clubs call it the role Chairman (Eg: Swans). I dunno what the difference is, but it’s probably got something to do with the club’s constitution which I’ll get to. The role of the President / Chairman is to be the Chairman at board meetings, and the President/Chairman has the casting vote in the event of a split vote on a board vote (eg: Carlton have 8 board members, if a vote ends up 4 yes, and 4 no; then the vote goes the way of the President’s casting vote). In the case of some clubs the President is the spokesperson for the board (Port Adelaide) but it doesn’t have to be that way (Carlton). The Present / Chairman are one member of the board ...

The board of directors. The board, led by the President, represent the interests of the members (hence why they are technically voted in by members even if that doesn’t really happen in practice). The board are responsible for governance matters, which basically means that they oversee that the organisation is following Australian laws (Corporations law, Taxation law, Employment law, etc, etc), and the laws of the competition (AFL) and the laws of the club (club constitution). Part of that means that they monitor that the organisation does not trade whilst insolvent (ie: organisation does not go broke) They also set the long term strategic direction of the organisation (eg: policy on getting into female sport, or big infrastructure spend would be a board matter), and they are responsible for appointing key office holders (eg: CEO, senior coach, head of football). Part of the strategic direction may include directing organisational culture and values - eg: attitudes towards women, indigenous community, equal opportunity, etc, etc over and above what is required by law. The board (including President / Chairman) are voluntary roles. They typically hold a board meeting once a month, although they can convene emergency board meetings when necessary. One special board meeting is the AGM which is held with the voting members and is described above. Minutes (records) of meetings will be kept in the event that authorities ever need to check that the board has been operating properly. In practice, the board don’t do all this work themselves, they delegate it to others to do and the board oversee it and approve the work. In the case of the club financials, they receive a financial audit report from an external accounting firm (eg: EY, KPMG, PWC, Deloitte’s). The board’s conduit into the organisation is mainly through the CEO, but from time to time they may call for presentations by the head of football or other senior management roles (eg: head of Membership, head of sponsorship). The board hold the CEO to account. The board may also ensure that matters of risk are being identified and addressed by the organisation. An unofficial role of boards is to exercise their rolodexes for the benefit of the organisation (kiddies, google rolodex) for activities like sponsorship and fund raising, although they need to be careful to ensure that they don’t create conflict of interest situations.

The constitution: All clubs have a constitution which specifies their organisation type (not for profit), ownership structure, owners liability, what the purpose of the organisation is, voting procedure, and various curious arcane tidbits of interest. In the case of some clubs (Collingwood) this document is referred to as The articles of association. The_Wookie has links to all these documents if you’re interested in reading your club’s.

The CEO The Chief Executive Officer is the top of the organisation chart within the club. They make sure that the board’s strategic direction is being carried out, that the organisation is functioning effectively: Management are doing their jobs. Bills and wages are getting paid. Maintenance is being performed. Members are being informed. Etc, etc. The CEO doesn’t really do much work themselves - in a perfectly run company where everything is ticking over the CEO sits in their office board with not much to do, but in practice they’d be keeping quite busy. The CEO reports to the board. The CEO is the conduit with the AFL on commercial matters.

The coterie groups These are private groups that exist outside of the club’s organisational structure, typically made up of wealthy / powerful individuals, who fundraise (and potentially lend their Rolodexes) for the benefit of the club. Not sure how they connect through to the club - through the membership dept? I don’t know much about them, but have included here for completeness.

Head of football. The role of the head of football is to ensure that the Senior Coaches (AFL, VFL, AFLW, VFLW, NEAFL, SANFL have all the resources at their disposal to do their job effectively. They also hold the Senior coach to account. I believe they are the conduit with the AFL on football matters (can somebody confirm that)

Other heads. There’ll be other heads below the CEO who manage things like finance, membership, sponsorship, merchandise, people and culture (HR), community engagement. Infrastructure. Each one will have a hierarchy below it. I get the impression that around half the people involved in a footy club don’t have anything directly to do with footy.

Senior Coaches. The poor sod in the hot seat.

Coaching Mentor. I’ve included this layer because I saw a question about what the difference is between Judd’s roll and Walls’ role at Carlton. Put simply, Judd is a direct conduit to the board, a bit like a ladder in ‘snakes and ladders’ who can bypass the CEO to report directly to the board what the footy department are doing. Judd would generally say nothing in meetings except to provide any clarification about board directives, he would generally only observe. By contrast Walls is a shoulder for the Senior Coach to cry on, someone who the senior coach can freely confide in and seek advice from outside of the normal chain of command without any prejudice. Walls probably never attends any club meetings, he just catches up with the senior coach directly. Probably the only contact Walls would probably have with the rest of the club is if he is being remunerated for this work. (FYI Stormzy )

List Manager / High Performance manager / etc. Not sure if this level reports to the Football manager or senior coach? I suspect the former, although it likely differs from club to club.

If anybody wants to have a crack at what the organisational structure is in the list management / recruitment area, I’d be interested. Ditto high performance. Ditto medical. Ditto anything else in the football dept.

All clubs publish a list of their key staff on their website.
 
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jason pm

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Either by A- incompetent idiots or B- messiah geniuses..... or anywhere in between.

Exhibit A- Carlton.
Exhibit B- Hawthorn/Geelong.
 

noodle

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I’ve never really understood the club appointed coaching mentor.

If his roll is someone for a coach to confide in you would think think the coach would have mentors and peers in his own network that he could reach out to. Someone that he personally connects with and trusts.

If it’s someone to bounce ideas off surely that’s the assistant coaches.

A club appointed mentor just sounds like a rat in the ranks that’s going to be watching your every move and reporting back to the corporates.
 

76woodenspooners

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I’ve never really understood the club appointed coaching mentor.

If his roll is someone for a coach to confide in you would think think the coach would have mentors and peers in his own network that he could reach out to. Someone that he personally connects with and trusts.

If it’s someone to bounce ideas off surely that’s the assistant coaches.

A club appointed mentor just sounds like a rat in the ranks that’s going to be watching your every move and reporting back to the corporates.
I think it’s a great point, and here’s an example of how it happens ...

... You’re on the board of a footy club. You’ve appointed a senior coach. He’s great! Everybody loves him. He has boundless energy. He’s driving standards. He has impeccable attention to detail. He’s involved in everything. The bloke is clearly ambitious and feels that he has been given the professional opportunity of a lifetime. He’s driven to succeed. You and your buddies on the board pat yourselves on the back for recruiting the right person ...

... but then things start to seem a little, well, out of shape. You spoke to the senior coach’s wife at the recent club function and she was clearly unhappy. Your own partner mentions that they’ve heard whispers about problems at home due to the workload. Trouble with the kids. Trouble having kids. Trouble with the wife home alone all the time and bored. The CEO mentions to you in passing that they got a call from security at 2am to report that the alarms hadn’t been turned on, but it turns out that the senior coach was working back late. Your best assistant coach leaves for the same job in another club, politely saying that they needed to be dynamic and work in different environments to help with their professional development.

It starts off small at first, but well, that’s the nature of high performance environments - sacrifices need to be made. As the losses stack up the senior coach tries harder and harder, he is now controlling everything, he gets more and more desperate to succeed to turn things around. And then it gets worse. The CEO mentions that last Thursday morning when they arrived they found the Senior Coach asleep at his desk. The CEO reports that the recent HR review revealed the morale amongst assistant coaches is very low. The CEO reports that they needed to diffuse an incident between the senior coach and list manager last week - the senior coach lost their temper over something, but it turned out that they were just confused. You watch a senior coach press conference and he looks tired. He’s muddling his words in a way that he wouldn’t normally.

The Senior Coach is clearly under great stress. They’re clearly struggling to cope. Maybe there are whispers of substance abuse? (See Thompson at Geelong)

You and your board discuss it, you all conclude that the Senior Coach needs to get his work-life balance in order for the sake of the club. His current output is not sustainable.

How to do that?

The assistants clearly aren’t in a position to deal with that.

The CEO / Head of Football can address the issue with the Senior Coach, but their roles are strategic, and they’re not really in a position to get involved in the tactical, practical day-to-day measures needed to fix the work / life balance situation.

Yeah, psychologists and career counsellors are available, but they don’t seem to be able to help - the Senior Coach isn’t open to therapy, and besides, what would they know? They’ve got NFI about the pressures on a senior coach. It’s all very well for them to talk about the airy fairy world of work-life balance, and life is all very easy when you’re getting paid to sit in your butt and gasbag to people all day, but they’ve never carried the weight of expectation of a footy club on their shoulders, what would they know?

The CEO sits down with the Senior Coach. The CEO points out that the Senior coach’s current behaviour is not sustainable and it has been noticed by others that it’s starting to affect their work output. The CEO asks whether the Senior Coach has a mentor that they can work with on this?. The club would happily cover any costs.

Maybe the Senior Coach doesn’t have a suitable mentor? Maybe the Senior Coach does have a mentor but they never find the time to meet with them? Maybe the Senior Coach does find the time, but the Senior Coach’s behaviour doesn’t change? Maybe the Senior Coach simply can’t see the problem that he is in the middle of?

The Senior Coach leaves a meeting with the CEO shouting at him, ”FFS, I wish you and the board would sort your s**t out ... do you want me to win this club footy games or do you want me to go out on date nights with my wife to watch cheesy romcoms???”. The Senior Coach rolls his eyes in contempt, he is clearly frustrated.

... the club needs to sort this out ...

... so the club identifies and appoints a suitable mentor. They make it public (an advantage of mentorship over therapy) so that everybody is on the same page about the Senior Coach being expected to work with that person.

You and the board cross your fingers and hope it works, because if it doesn’t, then the Senior Coach will need to be let go for the sake of the club and for the sake of himself and his family.
 

mouncey2franklin

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Interesting thread, won't get much traction because the majority of footy fans DGAF about stuff like this, but still an interesting thread for people like me.

In the case of NMFC, we are still technically and ostensibly a member-run club. But in practice, this is not the case, and it's getting worse.

The current board have implemented a rule whereby they can kybosh new people from running for positions on the board.

They have thus set themselves up as untouchable gatekeepers, and they have exercised (abused) this power already.

In other words, members officially are allowed to run for the board and vote for nominees, but as of June 2019, they can't really.

Do NMFC fans care? Most are completely oblivious and always will be. Just like most people alive today. Their care factor is zero.

Do I care? Less and less as I get older. It is what it is. Maybe the current board will ship us off to Tassie (my prediction). Maybe they won't.

The league will continue to make lots of money, pay their top brass crazy amounts, promote PC agendas, spend millions on junkets in China, etc etc.

And the average fan will continue to tune in, drink their beer, buy overpriced made-in-china merchandise for their kids' birthdays, and on and on.
 

Kwality

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Needs be said that not all clubs have the traditional member based (from the 1900s) model & are run differently.

Only need to see North reportedly looking to grab Peter Bell & Brady Rawlings to stump up their organisation.
 

76woodenspooners

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Interesting thread, won't get much traction because the majority of footy fans DGAF about stuff like this, but still an interesting thread for people like me.
It’s an interesting one.

As you say, many folks DGAF about how their club is run ...

... and yet those same folks will still argue for hours and days about

- Why the Senior Coach shouldn’t be sacked because he’s not the one out on the footy field spraying set shots on goals.
- Why the President should / shouldn’t be sacked
- Why it’s not the Senior Coach’s fault, it’s really the List Manager’s fault (or vice versa)

I just don’t get how people can work up an opinion about any of that stuff without having a modicum of interest about who does what in the footy club.

Do NMFC fans care? Most are completely oblivious and always will be. Just like most people alive today. Their care factor is zero.
When I first started going to Collingwood AGM’s I was surprised to see that the people there were generally level headed and reasonable and had independent opinions about the state of the club. I reckon it’s the only time I’ve seen Eddie Maguire nervous is when he has gone up in front of the membership when Collingwood haven’t been doing well.

Do I care? Less and less as I get older. It is what it is. Maybe the current board will ship us off to Tassie (my prediction). Maybe they won't.
At Collingwood it seems to be more the older folks who take an interest in how the club is being run. I’m hardly a spring chicken but I feel like I drag the average age of the room down at Collingwood AGM’s. I reckon that it would be good for more younger folks to take an interest.

The league will continue to make lots of money, pay their top brass crazy amounts, promote PC agendas, spend millions on junkets in China, etc etc.
Promote PC agendas? Why would they do that?

And the average fan will continue to tune in, drink their beer, buy overpriced made-in-china merchandise for their kids' birthdays, and on and on.
Some of the best stuff is made in China these days (You seem to be old enough to remember the “Made in Japan” insults? Yeah, Japan and China are different, Japan has always been focused on quality; whereas China puts the onus of quality on the consumer - and consumers are learning)

The “overpriced” bit is across all sports and is here to stay.
 

mouncey2franklin

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Promote PC agendas? Why would they do that?
Government funding and acquiescence. Major sports are merely one arm of an overarching Ministry of Love.

Anybody who believes there is a separation between government and major sports bodies is severely misguided.

Major sports are used to promote the overarching agendas of the day: 'multiculturalism', 'gender equality', 'lgbt acceptance', etc etc.

The AFL and similar bodies receive government grants and are allowed to operate as 'not for profit' despite clearly being anything but.

Haven't you ever wondered why there are multiple 'inclusion' and 'womens' rounds every season? It is not a coincidence.
 

ThatsjustDappa

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I’ve never really understood the club appointed coaching mentor.

If his roll is someone for a coach to confide in you would think think the coach would have mentors and peers in his own network that he could reach out to. Someone that he personally connects with and trusts.

If it’s someone to bounce ideas off surely that’s the assistant coaches.

A club appointed mentor just sounds like a rat in the ranks that’s going to be watching your every move and reporting back to the corporates.
A mentor is typically someone outside your network and peers, hence can provide a truly objective view and also outside the typical work worlds we live in. Also mentoring discussions are usually people, career & leadership related.
 

76woodenspooners

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Government funding and acquiescence. Major sports are merely one arm of an overarching Ministry of Love.

Anybody who believes there is a separation between government and major sports bodies is severely misguided.

Major sports are used to promote the overarching agendas of the day: 'multiculturalism', 'gender equality', 'lgbt acceptance', etc etc.

The AFL and similar bodies receive government grants and are allowed to operate as 'not for profit' despite clearly being anything but.

Haven't you ever wondered why there are multiple 'inclusion' and 'womens' rounds every season? It is not a coincidence.
For some cases I agree, for other cases I don’t.

Pies got a $10 million matched Federal Government grant to build the New Glasshouse on the basis that it would support ‘women in sport’, with gym and change room facilities for women in the community. Women could use the change rooms to go for a run around the Tan, and there would be lighting for safety.

When the grant was announced, this focus on women was announced (Oh, but the facilities would also equally support men too)

When the building was designed, this focus on women was announced (Oh, but the facilities would also equally support men too)

When the building was opened, this focus on women was announced (Oh, but the facilities would also equally support men too)

And yet these female focused (but equally accessible to men) open community facilities never eventuated. The gym lay dormant and empty for years before it eventually started to be used by the AFLW team.

So yeah, I agree on that one.

On LGBT, Pies supported that before it became Government policy.

The Abbott and Howard Governments were hardly a beacon of Political Correctness, and yet there was no evidence that sports funding got cut out of line with general fiscal policy during those periods?
 

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76woodenspooners

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Article about North and Carlton recruiting their next senior coach ...

... but it provides an interesting insight into a change in direction about how Senior Coaches operate (article excerpt)

https://www.theage.com.au/sport/afl/the-left-field-coach-carlton-and-north-should-consider-20190608-p51vsx.html

“...

The lesson of the Fagan-to-Brisbane narrative was that his life experiences – and especially his management job at Hawthorn – were a vastly superior preparation for coaching the Lions compared with working as an assistant coach.

Leigh Matthews, a witness to the Fagan experiment at Brisbane, reckons clubs will no longer hire coaches who are younger than 40. "I think it's a job for a more experienced, mature man," Matthews said.

Assistant coaches are typically ex-players, most of them having played up until they're 30 or thereabouts. They start in a development role; ideally they've coached a second-tier or under-18 team. They progress quickly to be a "line coach" (forwards, midfield or defence).

They've never managed an enterprise of any scale, never dealt with impatient and footy-illiterate boards, never been responsible for a player's welfare, never dealt with an insatiable 24-7 news media.

They didn't go to list-management meetings, didn't deal with the medicos much, didn't have endless meetings with every facet of the club.

...”

https://www.theage.com.au/sport/afl/the-left-field-coach-carlton-and-north-should-consider-20190608-p51vsx.html
 

deltablues

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Not interested in club admin etc. As a spectator I go to the footy to watch (when I can) my team play. At the end of the game I turn off.

I would guess, based on my interface with other footy fans of my acquaintance, that my indifference would be the majority viewpoint, despite the poll numbers here [because BF is for footy tragics - and thus they are interested in behind-the-scenes: similar to other sports blogs on e.g. F1, Rugby, etc].

My focus off-field is sport/AFL being increasingly politicized, as some have noted above. It is grabbing the tiger by the tail, as we are witnessing. In the States the NFL and ESPN have suffered the consequences of that route.
 

76woodenspooners

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Not interested in club admin etc. As a spectator I go to the footy to watch (when I can) my team play. At the end of the game I turn off.

I would guess, based on my interface with other footy fans of my acquaintance, that my indifference would be the majority viewpoint, despite the poll numbers here [because BF is for footy tragics - and thus they are interested in behind-the-scenes: similar to other sports blogs on e.g. F1, Rugby, etc].
I’d say most fans have selective interest about what happens out of the field of play.

They often get very interested when their team is failing to meet expectations and they want somebody to be held to account for that (eg: the board moving the senior coach out, as per the recent case with North and Carlton)

They often get very interested when there are governance failings (Essendon supplements scandal, Carlton salary cap breaches, Melbourne tanking allegations)

They get very interested when there are significant decisions made about the future of their club (eg: Collingwood moving from Victoria Park, Various mergers involving North, Melbourne, Hawthorn, Fitzroy)

My focus off-field is sport/AFL being increasingly politicized, as some have noted above. It is grabbing the tiger by the tail, as we are witnessing. In the States the NFL and ESPN have suffered the consequences of that route.
Are you referring to players taking the kneel?
 

deltablues

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I’d say most fans have selective interest about what happens out of the field of play.

They often get very interested when their team is failing to meet expectations and they want somebody to be held to account for that (eg: the board moving the senior coach out, as per the recent case with North and Carlton)

They often get very interested when there are governance failings (Essendon supplements scandal, Carlton salary cap breaches, Melbourne tanking allegations)

They get very interested when there are significant decisions made about the future of their club (eg: Collingwood moving from Victoria Park, Various mergers involving North, Melbourne, Hawthorn, Fitzroy)



Are you referring to players taking the kneel?[/QUOTE]
That is just some soi-disant ghetto posturing encouraged by the perps' enablers to stick it to the man.

In more general terms it is part of an agenda which has sought for over 2 years now to de-legitimize the current US Administration.

The pushback has now hit the wallet/ratings.

Money talks.

Funny, that.
 

76woodenspooners

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deltablues ...

In more general terms it is part of an agenda which has sought for over 2 years now to de-legitimize the current US Administration.
Politicians have always sought to highjack sport to advance either themselves or their agenda.

Australian Cricket Team boycotting South Africa under the apartheid regime, US boycotting the Moscow Olympics, Presidents having photo ops with sporting champions who get invited to the Whitehouse. Trump himself hasn’t been above it, whether that is having a photo op with the Clemson tigers at the Whitehouse during the shutdown earlier in the year, or being photographed on his private golf course with Tiger Woods.

So it shouldn’t be any surprise to anyone when that lion flips around and bites its handler. All the more so for the current President who has never pledged to (or made any pretence of) being the President for all Americans.
 

deltablues

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deltablues ...



Politicians have always sought to highjack sport to advance either themselves or their agenda.

Australian Cricket Team boycotting South Africa under the apartheid regime, US boycotting the Moscow Olympics, Presidents having photo ops with sporting champions who get invited to the Whitehouse. Trump himself hasn’t been above it, whether that is having a photo op with the Clemson tigers at the Whitehouse during the shutdown earlier in the year, or being photographed on his private golf course with Tiger Woods.

So it shouldn’t be any surprise to anyone when that lion flips around and bites its handler. All the more so for the current President who has never pledged to (or made any pretence of) being the President for all Americans.
I think you'll find the pushback against the NFL and ESPN PC agenda is by the fans. By walking away/canceling subs. And ESPN has now cried uncle, driven by its shareholders. The NFL is redefining itself as No Fans Left [or Right, if you'll indulge me].

And as for Trump - Trump did indeed pledge to be the President of all Americans, under the Presidential Oath. Those Americans who don't accept that can trudge away to their safe spaces, in a state of total denial as to the reasons why the Dems suffered their worst defeat since the 1920's...
 

76woodenspooners

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I think you'll find the pushback against the NFL and ESPN PC agenda is by the fans. By walking away/canceling subs. And ESPN has now cried uncle, driven by its shareholders. The NFL is redefining itself as No Fans Left [or Right, if you'll indulge me].
Don’t know about ESPN, but NFL has been going downhill for a long time and not just in the last two years. Trump pointed out that the NFL was going downhill when he was on the campaign trail. The concussion issue wouldn’t have been helping the NFL’s cause and that’s been going on for many years now. Maybe it’s their peddling of a PC agenda. Maybe it’s just a fashion trend.

One of the challenges of sporting administration is the role it plays for advocating causes. This weekend MND is topical in the AFL, and it’s an issue which has been introduced through a high profile AFL identity who is affected by it. Another cause was the marriage equality vote last year. Collingwood advocated for the ‘yes’ position. It’s all well and good for folks on the outside (like me) who reckon that the club should stay out of politics and remain neutral - but when the organisation internally has people who are directly affected by the cause (just as with MND), and given sporting clubs are workplaces with a culture, their work is more than a transactional thing, and clubs are in an arms race to entice and retain the best talent, and to motivate them - then it’s not unreasonable for the club to support them. I was dead against the club advocating any position on SSM at the time, I had believed that they should remain neutral on political issues. But now having seen that in the very short period since the ‘yes’ result that there have been same sex engagements / weddings of Collingwood players (AFLW), I do now appreciate why their employer used its platform to publicly support them. There are likely parallels with indigenous advocacy and other issues where the organisation is motivated more by supporting their staff - particularly their publicly facing ones - rather than simply being PC for the sake of being PC. If society expects its heroes to be role models, then maybe those heroes can reasonably expect a little bit to come back the other way.

All industries have their tough decisions, but I’m not envious of sporting organisations having to deal with this stuff.

And as for Trump - Trump did indeed pledge to be the President of all Americans, under the Presidential Oath. Those Americans who don't accept that can trudge away to their safe spaces, in a state of total denial as to the reasons why the Dems suffered their worst defeat since the 1920's...
I wasn’t intending to make a partisan statement. I believe that folks across the full political spectrum consider Trump to be a highly divisive figure. (Happy to corrected on that). So it would follow that some people / organisations / sporting organisations are going to be on the wrong side of the divide.
 
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Johnny Bananas

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Sports have always been politicised. The VFL/AFL in particular has been politicised since at least 1905 when they fielded Aboriginal players and paid them a wage despite Aboriginals not being counted as human beings for another six decades. Basically, anyone worried about the AFL becoming politicised is about 115 years too late.
 

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