Australian basketball legend Andrew Gaze condemned the behavior of AFL footballers at Sunday night’s Brownlow Medal, saying excessive alcohol consumption set a bad example for children.
During the end of season ceremony at the Crown CasinoAFL chief executive Gillon McLachlan was forced to repeatedly ask the rowdy attendees to quiet down so he could continue the count.
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Some footballers were seen having drinks when cameras rolled in their direction, which Gaze said sent the wrong message to young fans of the sport.
“It’s the end of the season, I understand. The players are done, they’ve worked hard for a long time, they need to be able to relax and have a good time.
“I just felt a little, and that’s the dad in me, a little uncomfortable with drinking, like it was some kind of game they were playing – ‘Give a beer when you get a vote and throw away the dark glasses”.
“What it does is it normalizes behavior that I don’t think is a good message for kids.
“We’re on school holidays and there’s a lot of kids watching. Again, in the grand scheme of things, I’m sure most people there have been very well behaved, but it’s still a look that is presented by heroes (to children).
“You hear Patrick Cripps talk about how he looked up to (Ben Cousins and Chris Judd on Brownlow’s night).
“To see some of these guys that young kids idolize sculling beers – they’re having a great time and I get that…I just think if there was a way for players to have fun and have a little excess, but in front of the camera – drinking responsibly should be part of what they do.
Carlton midfielder Patrick Cripps won the 2022 Brownlow Medal in the most biting finish by a vote tally in recent memory.
The Blues skipper was one of the favorites to win the AFL’s highest individual honour, but the lead changed countless times in a thrilling ceremony in Melbourne.
Cripps recovered from early disappointments to top the leaderboard halfway through the count and was tied with Brisbane’s Lachie Neale and Melbourne’s Clayton Oliver on 16 votes after Round 10.
It was a reverse vote count that carried through to the final round, with Neale and Gold Coast’s Touk Miller tied on 27 votes with one round remaining.
But there was one final twist as Cripps received the maximum three votes to take the lead out of 29 votes in the very last game of the AFL season – Carlton’s one-point loss to Collingwood that dashed hopes of the Blues to qualify for the final.
He finished one vote ahead of Neale and two over Miller in Brownlow’s closest count in years. Cripps is the first Carlton player to win the Brownlow since Chris Judd in 2010.
Cripps can thank Carlton’s attorney, who managed to successfully appeal a two-game suspension at a marathon hearingallowing him to play the last two games of the season and win the Brownlow.
The 27-year-old’s defense lawyer, Chris Townshend QC, has become a central figure in conversations about the Brownlow Medal on social media as fans revisit the controversial decision that saw Cripps avoid suspension and remain eligible to win the league’s highest individual award.
The AFL Appeal Committee last month overturned a court’s decision to issue a two-match ban for Cripps’ bump on Brisbane’s Callum Ah Chee, who suffered a concussion during of the incident.
Originally published as ‘A little uncomfortable’: Andrew Gaze condemns heavy drinking with Brownlow Medal