Tuesday, September 8, 2009

The Punishment Does Not Fit The Crime

I know many of you have been tuned into a debacle in New Zealand over a rugby game gone wrong and the subsequent punishment of the Kelston Boys / Auckland Grammar. Violence is a bad thing on the sports field, and things definitely got out of control here, but the punishment, especially of the Kelston boys who were banned from playing all rugby for between 10 and 16 months, does not fit the crime. I am seriously annoyed at what I think has been a discriminatory decision.

My attempt at reconciliation and rehabilitation would have been to pull the entire squad of both teams together (this is after all a sport) and pair each of them off with new counterpart on the opposing team, and get them to do four Saturdays of community service together. Once they’d done that they can play again. They would have been in the community working together, brought back harmony lessons learned, and created better outcomes. And I'd have included the coaches and new staff too.

Instead we run the risk of alienating a dozen or so kids aged 16-17-18, not letting them play the sport they love, and burdening some very young shoulders with a level of shame and public scrutiny which benefits no one. The Auckland Football Union needs to do the right thing here by rectifying the excessive (and unimaginative, and ultimately futile) penalties.