People wonder why we love the AFL? This is why. As a sign of solidarity for their
cancer-stricken teammate, Adam Ramanauskas, the Bombers recently asked AFL head office if they
could wear yellow armbands on the field, signalling their support for cancer
charity.

The League said no, apparently on the basis
of being wary of setting a precedent. AFL football operations manager Adrian “Angry” Anderson was
reported as saying that multi-coloured armbands were inappropriate and because
other clubs had made previous requests for multi-coloured armbands and been
denied in the past.

Just to be clear, what the League was
arguing was that it’s OK for a club to wear a black armband to honour a
player from decades ago who has finally died in his sleep, but not a yellow
armband to support a current player battling for his life.

The Bombers assumed the League wouldn’t
call them on the matter and ran out against Melbourne on Sunday
in the yellow armbands.
The League has now slugged Essendon with a
$20,000 fine.

The Bombers still can’t believe it but the
true hilarity is in the fine print, because guess where the AFL says the $20,000 fine
is going to go. Not consolidated revenue, not another Jacuzzi for the executive
offices … no, it will be given to “an unspecified cancer research charity,”
according to The Age.

So, deep breath: the AFL, worried about
setting a precedent, has rallied against the Bombers trying to support cancer
charities, by fining them 20 grand … and giving the money to a cancer charity.

Luckily no precedents are being set here. Not surprisingly, the Bombers aren’t
thrilled by the turn of events. Essendon chief executive Peter Jackson said: “If you can’t support a mate going through
chemotherapy, what can you support? It is just mean-spirited. The AFL endorse a $5000 fine for someone breaking the
nose of someone in the general public then slug us $20,000 for paying tribute
to a close friend and teammate battling cancer.”

Crikey has been unable to confirm that the
name of the cartoon “Dilbert” is being changed to “AFL HQ”.

Peter Fray

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