Last week’s sorry “chookgate” saga certainly brought a few chickens (and puntastic headlines) home to roost for North Melbourne Footy Club. The AFL was quick to act, condemning those who made the now infamous video starring rubber chicken Little Boris and sending the Kangaroos players involved to work closely with the AFL’s Respect and Responsibility program manager. But perhaps the AFL should also be having a little word with their official broadcast partner Triple M?

Over the weekend Triple M footy commentators — including North Melbourne chairman James Brayshaw — earnestly discussed the fall out from the “rubber chicken s-x incident”:

Triple M’s Brian Taylor (BT): I maintain that it is absolutely nothing to do with womens’ rights at all. I can understand the club’s point of view in wanting to make sure that they absolutely, conservatively distance themselves just in case … I feel it was a total hijacking of a situation to benefit a group of people in society — the dogooders who support womens’ rights.

Gary Lyon: It’s not that hard [to draw a parallel between the video and womens’ rights], Brian.

This exchange was followed immediately by an ad urging listeners to nominate their partners for Triple M’s online Melbourne’s Hottest WAG (Wife and Girlfriend) contest so listeners can see “their hot cross buns”. Listen here.

The ad aired so often, I finally succumbed and visited Triple M’s website as directed, but there wasn’t much respect and responsibility to be found amid the photos of “babes” boozing and posing provocatively for the lads.

A warning message on Triple M’s site advises, “If [you] don’t want to see boobs or if you’re not over 18 then it’s best you don’t look at this gallery”.

With some trepidation — lest Stephen Conroy’s internet police smash down my door — I pressed on, and was rewarded with images of half naked women painted in AFL footy colours to tenuously promote Footy Jumper Friday on April 24, in association with Beyond Blue. Not sure whether the group set up to raise awareness of depression and anxiety would be too impressed with the naked pics, given that they’re urging kids to wear their footy jumper to school and workers to wear them to the office. Presumably not painted on:

Here’s your chance to show it by wearing your footy jumper or team colours to work or school on Friday April 24.

Triple M radio is proud to present the first national Footy Jumper Friday fundraiser which aims to raise awareness of depression and anxiety and to support the work of beyondblue.

Crikey contacted the AFL to ask whether they believe such material creates an “inclusive environment for women at all levels of Australian Rules Football”, as specified in their Respect and Responsibility social policy. In addition to tantalising youngsters with the false promise of Sherrin football nipples, it’s hard to see how any of this, as AFL football operations manager Adrian Anderson said in the wake of “chookgate” last week, shows “appropriate respect to all women at all times”.

AFL media manager Patrick Keane advised, “The AFL’s Respect and Responsibility policy extends to our players, officials and clubs, and their behavior. We don’t have a comment outside of those who are bound by our policies.”

It seems strange the AFL shouldn’t take an interest in the way footy is portrayed by broadcast partners. Perhaps more than the rights to air game commentaries have been sold to the highest bidder?

I’m sure Little Boris would agree. Unless he’s off somewhere ’botty bothering’, as Triple M so charmingly put it elsewhere on their website.

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Peter Fray
Peter Fray
Editor-in-chief of Crikey
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