AFL did not suspend Stephenson for long enough
THE AFL didn't go hard enough on Collingwood player Jaidyn Stephenson yesterday when it handed down his suspension.
Stephenson was given a 22-game suspension, 12 of it suspended, and a $20,000 fine for using a friends gambling account and placing three bets totalling 36 dollars on different outcomes to do with himself and the club.
This included Collingwood to win, to win by a certain margin, Stephenson to kick a goal, his teammates to kick goals and his teammates to also have a certain amount of disposals.
The games were against Essendon, St Kilda and the Western Bulldogs.
The suspension was handed down and suspended in part because Stephenson admitted to it and self-reported on it.
But he did it after playing his third bet, not his first.
There's an old saying of fool me once, shame on you; fool me twice, shame on me.
He betted on three games before realising that he's actually doing something wrong and something you are not able to do.
Stephenson self-reported on May 19 after the third and final bet against St Kilda.
But while self-reporting is fantastic and allows the process to quicken up it still doesn't counter what he did.
He's had education, plenty of it, to not bet on AFL games while he is contracted to a club that plays in the game.
Every AFL player has had that hammered into them.
He also didn't do it once but three times before realising something was up.
To me the 22 games overall was the correct punishment.
You bring the game into disrepute, with betting on an AFL game, you sit out for a season.
Players are already under enough pressure and criticism of not performing at their best when they should be.
Be it through pressure, fitness, mental impacts or other things, it happens.
It doesn't need betting to be added to it and players not performing because they had a punt on a certain scenario.
The punishment needed to deter others from doing.
The AFL and other football codes have had problems in the past with betting and while it is not as prevalent as other sports, it is around and will continue to be around with betting a part of the game.
The AFL had the chance yesterday to set an example and make sure it never happens again by creating a punishment that deters players, staff and officials.
They didn't get it right in my opinion, which is a shame.