Again, the month of August did not shy away from placing sporting controversies in the limelight.
The world’s fastest man is attempting to play in the a-league, one NRL club even sacked their coach just weeks from the impending finals series, the sporting world really does have a brilliant knack of producing some outrageous stories. Here are our top 3 sporting controversies for the month of August.
1. Usain Bolt: The A-league’s new star man
Now this is something you would never think you’d hear. Usain Bolt, a man who dons the title of ‘Worlds Fastest Man’ is attempting to crack into the Central Coast Mariners squad. The sauce lovers (just look at their stadium) have given the star a chance to trial for their team and make a name for himself. It is highly publicised that Bolt has a dream to play as a professional footballer and it seems he may have found a home on the east coast of Australia.
The worlds fastest man was put through his paces for the first time with his squad at Blue Tongue Stadium on the 21st of August, with media flocking to witness the training session, which happened to fall on his 32nd birthday.
Bolt was extremely optimistic in his press conference after the session.
“I’m definitely going to be out of my comfort zone but that’s why you train. This is why I’m here. I’ll get better and more confident the more games I play and the more I train,” said Bolt.
“I look forward to scoring as many goals [as possible] and bringing home the trophy.”
But the elite athlete knows that their will be a lot of hard work to get himself into a position to gain a professional contract with the team.
“This is my first chance getting to train and play and get to a level to play as a professional footballer, so I don’t know what to expect. I’m just here to push myself, learn as much as possible. I told the coach I am here with a blank slate, no matter what I’ve learned or what I’ve seen on TV, I’m here to learn and get better,” said Bolt.
Bolt is a much loved athlete around the world an his charm and charisma would certainly be beneficial for the A-League and the Mariners alike, with the 2017/18 season producing the lowest average crowd attendance in the past six seasons.
2. The Penrith Panthers sacked coach Anthony Griffin just four weeks out from the finals series
You would think that leading your team to a handy fifth spot on the ladder, being only four points from the top spot in a tight year would suggest that you have been doing your job fairly well. With the Panthers competing in all of the finals series since Griffin was appointed coach in 2016, surely he has been doing a good job? Wrong. Gus Gould, the Panthers General Manager, sensationally sacked the man who, rumours say, he ‘didn’t get along with’ (not sure many people would Gus).
The Panthers CEO, Brian Fletcher, stated that ‘behind the scenes, you’d understand why it needed to be done now’.
But this whole situation begs the question, when did it become about the politics of club power and not just about the football being produced on the park? With the Panthers being contenders for a premiership this year, and although they have lost some games and had runs of poor form, when they are playing their best they do look to be one of the strongest teams in the competition. Did Griffin really deserve his sacking?
The reasoning was suggested to be because of an ‘old school’ coaching philosophy that wasn’t applicable to a young and exciting Panthers squad. A new coaching philosophy was needed for the Panthers in 2019 according to a meeting between club officials and these individuals believed that a change of coach four weeks out from a finals series wouldn’t hurt the teams chances of going as far as possible this season.
In hindsight, the Panthers have now secured a fifth versus eighth place final against the enigmatic New Zealand Warriors, with only two points separating the top 8. Assistant coach Cameron Ciraldo has stepped into the job and has had success, with the panthers looking make their push for a Grand Final spot.
3. West Coast Eagles player, Andrew Gaff struck rookie Andrew Brayshaw in the face, in a careless act
In the AFL’s western derby between the Fremantle Dockers and West Coast Eagles, the Eagles star-man, Andrew Gaff swung at Andrew Brayshaw, an 18 year old rookie, displacing multiple teeth and fracturing his jaw.
Brayshaw’s brother, Hamish, and both men involved in the incident were reportedly playing golf together the week prior. Gaff stated the punch was never intended to hit his face, and that he was attempting to get some space and hit him in the chest. But the punch connected with the rookie’s face, and led to some very distressing scenes for players and officials. Dockers coach Ross Lyon said this a press-conference after the game:
‘I’ve got an 18-year-old kid that I’ve seen in a real mess when I came down to the room … and his mum in tears as I walked in. It’s not very palatable.’
The event shocked AFL and sporting fans alike, as no one wants to see a player injured due to a careless act alike to this one. The perpetrator was incredibly remorseful and completely regretted his actions, which displays his true character. Gaff had this to say during his tribunal hearing:
“I feel sick that I hit Andrew,” said Gaff.
“I feel so sorry for what has now happened to Andrew. I never intended for this to happen.”
“Once I saw him lying on the ground, I instantly felt sick … mentally I didn’t want to keep playing.”
Many people come out in the media in support of Gaff, stating he is a fair player and a caring individual and that this action was completely out of character. Prior to the incident, Gaff was a major contender for the sports largest individual prize, the Brownlow Medal, but was put out of contention after being handed a 8 week suspension, finishing his season.
Hopefully, there aren’t any more injuries caused by careless acts such as this in the AFL.