The other day the AFL announced their findings in regard to the Melbourne tanking investigation. Here I envision how exactly the announcement went down.
Press-Room Staff: Here with us today is the AFL’s head of information dispersal, Mohammed Saeed al-Sahhaf.
Al-Sahhaf: Hello one and all. Let me start by thanking you all for coming along today. Now to the news. The AFL wishes to advise that its investigation into the Melbourne Demons has concluded, and has found the Demons are not guilty of having deliberately set out to lose games. Everything is fine in the universe. We have also decided to lug them with the third largest fine in league history, and have issued significant suspensions to former coach Dean Bailey and former Football Operations Manager, Chris Connolly. Any questions?
Reporter 1: Sorry, I thought you said Melbourne were not guilty?
Al-Sahhaf: That is correct.
Reporter 1: So…. uh…..why the fine and suspensions?
Al-Sahhaf: We concluded that they had acted in a manner prejudicial to the interests of the AFL.
Reporter 1: What does that mean?
Al-Sahhaf: I’m not sure how it could be clearer.
Reporter 1: So, what did they do?
Al-Sahhaf: Well, in a pre-game meeting with several members of the Melbourne staff, the Head of Football Operations Chris Connolly acted in a manner that was prejudicial to the interests of the AFL. We have established that his motives were to secure a priority draft pick. Coach Dean Bailey was present at this meeting, and in regard to Connolly’s comments, acted during pre-game planning in a manner that was prejudicial to the interests of the AFL.
Reporter 1: Could “prejudicial to the interests of the AFL” be construed as “deliberately sought to lose games”
Al-Sahhaf: What? No! Of course not. What gave you such a ridiculous idea?
Reporter 1: So, the head of football operations motive was to secure a priority draft pick. He intimated this to other staff members during pre-game planning. The coach, having heard these comments, acted in a way that was “prejudical to the interests of the AFL”, warranting a 16 game suspension.
Reporter 1: But they didn’t set out to lose games?
Reporter 1: So, uh, what did they do, exactly?
Al-Sahhaf: We’ve been through this. They acted in a manner prejudicial to the interests of the AFL.
Reporter 1: Do you see how a cynical person could think you’re dealing in semantics and in doing so are just skirting the issue?
Al-Sahhaf: Not really. No.
Reporter 1: So you’re telling me those running the show at Melbourne had a goal of securing a priority pick. A goal that, to be realised, meant avoiding winning a certain amount of games. You’re telling me discussions on this topic were serious enough to warrant a $500,000 fine and suspensions for the head of football operations and the coach, and then you’re telling me they didn’t follow through? That it’s a nice coincidence that they managed to realise that goal?
Al-Sahhaf: I think it’s time we stopped going around in circles and instead returned our heads to the sand.
Reporter 1: I feel like this conversation is beginning to be prejudicial to my mental health.
Reporter 2: Hi Ben Davis here, Evening News. Do you think it’s possible that Melbourne wanted to tank, but were so inept that they couldn’t even manage that, and it is through sheer dumb luck they managed to achieve their goal?
Reporter 1: That theory has merit.
Al-Sahhaf: This sand sure is warm.
Reporter 1: It says in this release that Bailey felt pressured after that meeting and that he made decisions regarding resting players and positional selections within the context of that pressure.
Al-Sahhaf: It sure does.
Reporter 1: But he wasn’t trying to lose games?
Reporter 1: So after being told of a goal to secure a priority pick, Bailey felt pressured to make certain decisions regarding players, but the Demons as a whole weren’t trying to avoid victory?
Al-Sahhaf: That’s what I’m saying.
Reporter 2: Maybe Melbourne were on such a run of failing to achieve their goals that they thought it would be a shame to achieve one now?
Reporter 1: So if Melbourne didn’t tank, could I conclude that they are being punished for merely talking about the prospect of tanking? Isn’t that a little Orwellian?
Al-Sahhaf: What is with this tanking? Nobody tanks. Tanking doesn’t exist. Didn’t the Ministry of Truth make this clear to you all?
Reporter 1: Well that is definitely Orwellian. Are there plans to punish players and coaches for internal thoughts prejudicial to the AFL?
Al-Sahhaf: Yes. Our Ministry of Love is working on it as we speak.
Reporter 1: We have a Ministry of Love as well?
Al-Sahhaf: They merged with our integrity unit.
Reporter 1: How alarming. If I may, a lot of people would take the view that even if Melbourne did tank they didn’t do anything wrong, as it was entirely in their interests to lose in order to take advantage of a flawed system the AFL itself implemented.
Al-Sahhaf: The AFL does not have flawed systems. They are perfect. Except the actual rules of the game. They need to be tinkered with incessantly.
Reporter 1: Why did you change the priority pick system then?
Al-Sahhaf: Why to make it more perfect.
Reporter 1: Right. Many folks believe the AFL is just dodging this issue in order to avoid opening a can of worms. I mean, if you investigate Melbourne, why not other sides who have the cloud looming over them? And then there is the whole betting issue. I’m sure there would be a lot of people claiming money lost on illegitimate matches. Is the AFL just running away from the problem? Was it in their interests to find the Demons not guilty? Is this just the easiest outcome for all involved?
Al-Sahhaf: I’d love to address those questions, but I’m afraid I must depart. We have plenty of other scandals to manage.
Sorry I meant address.
Reporter 3: Scott Jones here, SA Weekly. One last question before you leave?
Al-Sahhaf: Fine. You do know this whole drug business isn’t going to sweep itself under the carpet though, right?
Reporter 3: A lot of folks over in Adelaide are pretty angry about all this. When you consider the $500,000 fine could be covered entirely by equalisation handouts the Demons receive from the AFL, and the fact Chris Connolly no longer works in the football side of things at Melbourne, you could conclude that Adelaide will be more affected than Melbourne will be as a result of Melbourne’s transgressions. Or non-transgressions. I’m still not sure what you’re saying they did.
Al-Sahhaf: Have you seen Adelaide’s logo? It’s horrible. It doesn’t even look like a crow. It’s like what would happen if a child tried to draw the Baltimore Ravens logo. If my child came home with that I wouldn’t even stick it on the fridge. As far as I’m concerned they deserve everything they’ve copped.
Reporter 3: What about the fact that agreeing to trade a player on the cheap is supposedly draft tampering and thus warrants the surrendering of draft selections, but deliberately losing in order to acquire additional draft picks does not?
Al-Sahhaf: It really is a bad logo. I mean Brisbane’s may look like the Paddle Pop Lion, but at least you can tell it is actually a lion. Also they didn’t deliberately try to lose. I thought I’d made that abundantly clear.
Reporter 3: I think I speak for everyone when I say that nothing is even remotely clear. Frankly I think you’re treating us all like idiots.
Al-Sahhaf: Well then my job is certainly done. Folks that really is all we have time for. I’ll see you all again shortly after round one when we announce a new rule change born out of a knee-jerk reaction to something that happened 12 hours earlier.