Whilst it took Wood by surprise, the spectator has come out and said that he meant to pat him on the back but slipped whilst trying to lean over. The culprit ended up being banned for the rest of the season.
In my opinion, that is way too harsh and a simple apology from the guilty party to Wood would’ve been sufficient.
It begs the question, are we becoming too sensitive?
Hypothetically, what if it was a young teenage girl that had slapped Wood’s bottom… Would she have copped the same penalty as the young boy or would we being laughing it off?
I am aware that players are a protected species and it is their workplace, however common sense could have prevailed and a simple apology from the spectator to Wood was all that it really needed.
When Essendon played against Melbourne in round six there was a situation where a spectator gave Melbourne ruckman Max Gawn a mouthful over the fence as Gawn was on the boundary line having a shot for goal. Gawn ended up kicking the goal and he gave some back to the mouthy spectator.
Whilst it looked nasty, Gawn reciprocated to the spectator after he kicked the goal and the spectator was given a warning by security with common sense prevailing with some banter being in the spirit of the game.
These situations are fairly rare and whilst there’s always the odd banter between players and fans, generally we are lucky that the relationships are good. It is always nice after a game of footy for the players to go around and give high fives and pose for photos etc..
In the past player and spectator relations have not been so friendly. There was a horrible situation with Yugoslavian-born tennis player, Monica Seles being stabbed in the back by a crazed male in the crowd during the French Open in 1993.
Whilst Seles was understandably shaken up by the incident, she was okay and the spectator was arrested immediately. Hopefully we never see anything like this ever happen again, at least these days there is a fair bit of security around and police presence, not to mention all the cameras.
Whilst what happened the other Friday night with Wood and then the Gawn incident weren’t a great look for the game, justice prevailed for at least one of the incidents.
I still feel as though the spectator who slapped the backside of Wood was treated way too harshly, but then again, I guess that is the times we live in.
Can you imagine if this happened twenty years ago to some of the tough guys of football like Mal Brown or Leigh Matthews, the spectator would’ve come off second best. Then again he probably would’ve been too scared to do it.
Morale of the story, you can’t touch any players unless of course it’s a high five, or in the case of James Hird back in the day when Essendon played West Coast, you might be lucky and a player might give you a hug first!