Silly Saints not sign of bad culture: AFL - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

Silly Saints not sign of bad culture: AFL

By Sam Lienert 02/02/2011 08:22:00 PM Comments (0)

AFL chief executive Andrew Demetriou says the league might have to do more to ensure players lead balanced lives but he doubts the latest St Kilda scandal reflects a wider problem.

Demetriou on Wednesday praised the Saints' reaction to young players Zac Dawson, Rhys Stanley, Jack Steven and Paul Cahill consuming alcohol and prescription sleeping medication while in New Zealand on a recent training camp.

The Saints have suspended the quartet for six weeks and fined them each $5,000, along with outlining plans to introduce a policy requiring their young players to work or study outside of football.

St Kilda chief executive Michael Nettlefold also met with AFL players' association counterpart Matt Finnis on Wednesday to discuss plans for new player education programs.

"We'll hopefully announce in the not-too-distant future that we will be delivering what will be ground-breaking programs, landmark programs for year one, two and three players," Nettlefold said.

Demetriou said the four players acted in a silly and dangerous manner.

But, despite the episode following another St Kilda off-season controversy involving the distribution on social media networks of nude and part-nude photos of players, the AFL boss defended the Saints' culture.

"Every so often unfortunately (some players) make silly decisions, one or two or three of them here or there, and they unfortunately taint the rest of the playing group," Demetriou said.

"I think there are some wonderful ambassadors at the St Kilda Football Club, Nick Riewoldt, Lenny Hayes, I could go on and on.

"I wouldn't necessarily say that this is a true reflection of the St Kilda Football Club standard."

Demetriou also said the available evidence suggested the misuse of prescription medication such as sleeping tablets was not common in the AFL.

"We've seen in this situation that when you combine alcohol as the precursor to this behaviour that you can make silly decisions," he said.

"Obviously these four lads have made silly decisions, they are paying a heavy price for it, the club has acted very swiftly.

"It's a very dangerous mix."

He said the league would examine whether enough was being done to ensure players at all clubs had an appropriate balance of non-football activities.

"I don't necessarily subscribe to the theory that there's a lot of players sitting around idle, with too much time on their hands," he said.

"Players are entitled to have some downtime ... whether we've got the balance right or not, it's something we'll continue to pursue with the players' association and with clubs and if we can get better, we will."

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