Thursday, May 04, 2006

Play The Whistle

Ever since I was a kid I've heard the rule "Play the whistle". It means that you don't stop playing, and the game isn't finished, until the umpire tells you to. The umpire is the important figure to be respected and obeyed. It's a fundamental rule to be observed and has served us well.

I think the AFL has done the sporting world an injustice by sacrificing this rule. Last weekend the Freo Dockers played St Kilda in a footy match in Tasmania. Now, Tasmania has a history of strange happenings, usually family related, but something very unusual ocurred. The timekeeper sounded the siren to indicate that the game was finished but the umpires, all three of them and perhaps the emergency umpire, didn't hear it and the game continued for 26 seconds. Freo were leading by a point and their players heard the siren and started protesting to the field umpire in charge of the game at the time that it had ended. As I said, play continued and St Kilda scored a point to level the scores. Not only that but St Kilda were awarded a free kick to the player who had levelled the scores as he was infringed upon after he had taken his kick but he only kicked a point again.

Quite rightly Freo disputed the final score. But, the rules state that the timekeeper shall sound the siren and if the umpires don't recognise that the siren has been sounded then the siren must be continued until that happens. This wasn't the case. The umpires must then blow the whistle to indicate fulltime and acknowledge the timekeeper. Ok, something major regarding the result happened. But, the time-honoured rule of playing the whistle should apply and the draw should stand.

Freo appealed the result. The AFL Commission was asked to judge the outcome of the game and the tribunal that followed took four hours to come to the decision that Freo had won the game. This was an extraordinary happening. The bookmakers paid out for the draw though.

Is the AFL telling us that the umpire isn't to be respected then, even when he is wrong? What happens in the near future if the siren goes to indicate the end of the match and a player kicks a score a split-second after the siren to win a match? This has happened before and it is the umpire's decision as to whether the kick took place before the siren or not. Are we going to see clubs go to the tribunal to say, "No, this happened after the siren so we dispute the umpire's decision"? Under the current rules I believe that the draw should stand. And it's not just because I'm not a Freo fan. Play the whistle people.

1 comment:

Hammysmum said...

Hear, hear!