Open Letter To AFL CEO Asks For Action On Sexism

30/09/2015 4:07 PM AEST | Updated 15/07/2016 12:51 PM AEST
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MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA - JULY 03: AFL CEO, Gillon McLachlan speaks to media during a press conference at AFL House on July 3, 2015 in Melbourne, Australia. Gillon McLachlan announced that the round 14 AFL match between the Adelaide Crows and the Geelong Cats would be abandoned after the death of Crows coach Phil Walsh. Walsh was found dead after an alleged domestic dispute in his Somerton Park home in Adelaide overnight. (Photo by Robert Cianflone/Getty Images)

An anonymous woman has written an open letter to AFL CEO Gillon McLachlan about sexism after a comment made by a Footy Show host.

The woman said she found the incident itself relatively innocuous, but nevertheless offensive.

The catalyst for all this was former Geelong footballer and well known sport media personality Brownless, who is a regular panel member on the Nine Network's Melbourne produced Footy Show (AFL).

When word of the incident became public, the backlash was swift supporting the woman's premise that the majority of the community -- sport loving or not -- has lost patience with this type of off-hand sexist rhetoric.

The incident described in the letter to McLachlan highlights the fact that it is not Brownless that is the problem but the broader issue of attitudes towards women by the football fraternity, which still lingers and was reflected in Brownless' comments. Even in 2015, mainstream media programs like The Footy Show, seem to reinforce such misconceptions.

In a week where football is to be celebrated for the on-field contest, the Brownlow Medal awards night, which kicked off the week's festivities, has also come in for some criticism and raised debate over the increased emphasis given by broadcasters and media alike, to the 'Red Carpet' event which features some players and football personalities with their glamourously dressed partners -- the latter of which are now viewed as the pre-show entertainment element.

Sport media organisations across the board should take note of the issue raised by the letter as the Nine Network is not alone. Who can forget the Eugenie Bouchard 'twirl' incident at the 2015 Australian Tennis Open and the very broad and embarrassing international coverage it received.

For the past few months the AFL and, it has to be said the broader community, has been dealing with the issue of racism with Adam Goodes at its centre, but it is acknowledged that racism is just one element of the ongoing battle against intolerance within the sport.

While the woman's approach to McLachlan is understandable and even laudable, it is perhaps not realistic.

Channel Nine is not the broadcast rights holder in partnership with the AFL and is an independent commercial entity and so the AFL ostensibly has no influence with the network.

It remains for the senior executives at the network to review their attitudes towards social responsibility over that of ratings.

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