Brad Fittler’s offensive on air blunder.

Former NRL player Brad Fittler made a terrible on air blunder and has earned himself another nomination for The Frownlow Medal Hall of Fame.

Fittler was commentating on the game between South Sydney and Parramatta when a Rabbitohs player passed the ball to a teammate and got it back from his teammate before diving over the line to score, prompting Fittler to call the Souths player an ‘Indian Giver’ – not once but twice.

The Frownlow Medal is awarded to the player whose off-field demeanour epitomises the values of the modern-day footballer and draws attention to the status of footballers as role models to young Australians. It covers Australia’s four major football codes; the National Rugby League (NRL), Australian Football League (AFL), the A-League (Football) and Rugby Union’s Super Rugby competition. NRL player Shaun Kenny-Dowall won the inaugural medal in 2015, while AFL player Elijah Taylor is the most recent recipient.

The Frownlow Medal Hall of Fame honours former players and players who received media attention in previous seasons, for similarly scandalous behaviour, and its inductees include Ben Cousins and Julian O’Neill.

The rugby league legend may not be aware but the term Indian Giver is considered offensive in the United States. The phrase has its origins in the early days of the colonisation of the US, and referred to the tradition of giving a gift and expecting a gift in return. It’s original use might have been innocent, but it came to describe people so ungenerous that they take back gifts as soon as they are given or immediately demand a present in return. In more recent times, it was used in a derogatory way to refer to First Nations people of North America.

The NSW Blues player and coach earned his first Frownlow nomination in 2018. He was once labelled ‘the drunkest human being ever’ by police after he was found lying outside Glebe Police Station in Sydney. On another occasion, he was drunk and half naked and tried to enter the hotel room of two women.

Fittler has now been given another chance to enter The Frownlow Medal Hall of Fame, as well as free enrolment in a history course at an adult community college.

Image: NuNa

The Frownlow Medal welcomes back two of its biggest stars.

The Frownlow Medal is delighted to welcome back into its family Israel Folau and Jack de Belin after both moved one step closer to resuming their football careers. Folau and de Belin have been locked out of Australia’s most prestigious award but could return to the field very soon.

The Frownlow Medal is awarded to the player whose off-field demeanour epitomises the values of the modern-day footballer and draws attention to the status of footballers as role models to young Australians. It covers Australia’s four major football codes; the National Rugby League (NRL), Australian Football League (AFL), the A-League (Football) and Rugby Union’s Super Rugby competition. NRL player Shaun Kenny-Dowall won the inaugural medal in 2015, while AFL player Elijah Taylor is the most recent recipient.

Former NSW Blue de Belin is set to play for the St George-Illawarra Dragons reserve-grade team this weekend against Western Suburbs, and once he inevitably returns to first-grade, he will be eligible for The Frownlow Medal. Folau, meanwhile, has launched legal action to force his way back into the NRL via the Queensland lower-grade competition.

Tyhe back-rower has been allowed to play again after his court case for alleged sexual assault dragged on for years but was unable to find a verdict, and all charges were dropped. Folau was kicked out of rugby league and rugby union after multiple homophobic social media posts, but is desperately seeking Frownlow eligibility via a legal case funded by one of Australia’s richest men, Clive Palmer.

Folau’s legal team have accused the NRL and The Frownlow Medal of religious discrimination, and argue that:

“…Israel doesn’t drink, smoke or take drugs. He has never been charged with a criminal offence, he hasn’t assaulted any women…”

How then does he expect to win The Frownlow Medal?

Folau’s many supporters argue that his social media posts should never have been punished because they are an example of free speech.

NSW rugby league officials, meanwhile, have promised to provide extra security for de Belin “to ensure Jack de Belin’s return to rugby league is conducted in the right spirit”. They have advised that “…if anyone goes there with the intention of trying to disturb anyone’s proper enjoyment of the day, we need to be ready to deal with that…” and that anyone planning to display “offensive signs” aimed at de Belin will have those signs removed.

So much for free speech.

Image: NuNa

NRL referees announce yet another crackdown.

Commentators from Channel Nine and Fox Sports have been informed that NRL referees will punish the mispronunciation of players’ names from this weekend, in a move similar to the crackdown on head-high tackles during Magic Round.

“Commentators must correctly pronounce the names of all players during broadcasts,” announced Jared Maxwell, General Manager, Elite Officiating.

“TV commentators are paid a lot of money to talk about football, so the least they can do is get the names right- especially since many of them are household names.”

An extra official will be appointed to every game to specifically monitor broadcasts, and commentators will be sent to the sin bin for the first infringement, or sent out of the commentary box for the rest of the game for repeated or serious errors. Regular trips to the judiciary will result in suspensions or fines.

“So, every time Ray Warren tells us that Tino Fa’asuamaleaui is from ‘Malawi’, he’ll be sent to the bin and cannot broadcast for 10 minutes. If he and other commentators continue to get it wrong, they’ll be off for the rest of the game. I think you’ll hear a lot of commentators calling him ‘Big Tino’ from now on.”

The Gold Coast Titans enforcer is not the only player whose name is mangled on a regular basis.

“The new crackdown obviously applies mostly to the pronunciation of Pasifika names – players from countries such as Tonga, Samoa, Fiji and PNG, as well as Maori names,” explained Maxwell.

“Players with Pasifika heritage now make up about 50% of all NRL squads, so it’s important that everyone in rugby league, especially commentators, pronounce their names correctly. We understand that many of the names are very long and unfamiliar to the predominantly Caucasian commentators who cover the games on TV, but we also believe that pronouncing names correctly is a bare minimum requirement for the highly-paid TV personalities.”

“It’s 2021, you shouldn’t be getting paid a fortune to stuff up a name and just laugh it off”

Maxwell also stressed that most of the names which trouble commentators belong to the stars of the game, like Jason Taumalolo, Josh Papali’i, Sio Siua Taukeiaho, Fa’asuamaleaui and Nelson Asofa-Solomona, plus emerging stars such as Keaon Koloamatangi.

“Fans have also noticed that names like Josh Papali’i sound different this season, and the crackdown reflects that correction. Also, it’s impossible to win a premiership these days without Pasifika players, so the least the commentators can do is pronounce their names correctly.”

Channel Nine and Fox Sports are yet to publicly respond to the announcement, but insiders from both networks revealed that all commentators have today started a 3-day pronunciation boot camp in preparation for the first game under the new rules on Thursday, when Taumalolo, Connelly Lemuelu and Hamiso Tabuai-Fidow will face a Knights squad containing Sauaso Sue, Pasami Saulo and Christian Ma’anaima.

Commentators from the various radio stations which cover NRL have also been put on notice, and if the initiative proves successful, it is expected to be adopted by AFL, Rugby Union and Football administrators, even though it is less of an issue in these codes.

Australia’s other major football codes would most likely introduce it next season, giving AFL commentator Brian Taylor time to practice those tricky Italian names.

Image: NuNa