Who Killed Mathew Stokes?

(It’s not often I blog beyond the confines of Arden St, but this really pisses me off.)

You would have all heard of poor Mathew Stokes’ plight. My question is, who killed him (or at least his career)? The suspects are:

  1. Victorian Police – Stokes was allegedly found with one gram of cocaine. Apparently he bought two grams for $850. How exactly does that constitute trafficking when a “traffickable quantity” is defined as 3 or more grams? Possession, maybe. Trafficking, fuck off!
  2. Media – Covering the shit out of the issue in the most sensational forms only turns the public against Stokes.
  3. Geelong Football Club – Forced by the media and misinformed public to abandon their own.
  4. AFL – As above.
  5. WADA – Why can’t we create standards for sportsmen that are based on education and rehabilitation rather than incrimination and humiliation?
  6. State/Federal Governments – Who created these shit criminal drug laws anyway? And who really cares what WADA thinks?
  7. You – The football obsessing public can’t get enough of this sort of drama. Aren’t we all just feeding the machine? The media respond t0 the public’s insatiable desire for scandal, who prompt the GFC, AFL, Govt, Police to respond by crucifying Stokes’ career?

I’m tipping all of the above, but mainly 7.

Can anyone tell me why this incident affects Stokes’ career? It wouldn’t affect any of our careers, be it doctor, lawyer, journalist or public servant? Surely taking football away from Stokes would only increase the risk of repeat offense (if indeed he is guilty in the first place)?

Apart from Stokes himself, undoubtedly the biggest loser in this whole affair is football. Some of the game’s greatest players have had shady pasts – incidents like this will only persuade clubs to stop drafting them, until all we’re left with is a bunch of priests and nerds playing our once great game.

It’s time some of us made a stand against this shit. I’m just not sure how …

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16 Comments

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16 responses to “Who Killed Mathew Stokes?

  1. Who killed Matthew Stokes’s career? Matthew Stokes did.

    For a bloke who would be on at least a quarter of a million dollars a year, and is working in an environment where they are constantly told about the dangers of drugs and alcohol, and who are perfectly aware of the media storm if they get caught, he has no-one else to blame but himself.

  2. Have to agree that Cameron Stokes was the idiot who brought the drugs and the blame should be at him.

    Yes us and the media do not help but if he did the right thing, we would not be on his back would we?

  3. opppsss btw it should be Mathew Stokes and not Cameron…

  4. Nic

    I don’t think I’m with you on this one. I agree it’s mostly 7 (i.e. mostly our fault) – I think this is a celebrity issue not a football issue.
    I agree the charges are probably OTT, but they will eventually get them right (although the inital reporting has done it’s damage)
    I think some careers would be affected by this kind of criminal acticvity (I suspect laywers, doctors, pharamacists, police etc can’t carry criminal records) (even if the law is an arse)
    And Stokes is a total fucking idiot and I find it hard to have sympathy for him. I know much shadier characters have played footy, but (for what ever reasons, good or bad), footy players are now elite althletes that are effected by the cult of celebrity and some actual social responsibility that should mean they shouldn’t order coke for thier mates and be accepted as and AFL player.
    I think the times have changed and you also need to be an elite role model as well (for better or worse), but don’t sign up if don’t want to be. I don’t think it will change the level of skill nor excitement on the ground if dodgy blokes don’t play anymore – priests and nerds can still tear it up on the field.

    • I hear your point re: celebrity issue. But the big difference facing footballers is that most celebrities (be it rock star, TV personality, etc) seem to keep their careers despite the public fall-out. Sometimes, their career is enhanced. Footballers have no chance.

      • But there are different expectations. I’d argue that some musicians (hello Nick Cave) wrote better music when they were drug addicts. And drugs usually don’t inhibit (too much) their performances as artists. I’ve seen enough gigs to smell the waft of dope in the air, and been backstage enough to see various pills and powders supplied as the “unofficial band rider”.

        In the case of footballers, we expect them to be in their best physical condition and to look after their bodies properly so that they can do their main task, playing football, in the best way possible

  5. I have to say another big ooops – leaving off Mathew Stokes as a suspect! (I guess that’s what happens when you quickly bang something out)

    Yep – the guy has stuffed up big time, and he only has himself to blame.

    But I still stand by the sentiment of the post.

  6. In terms of the loss of characters, that’s the price the sport pays for the increasing professionalism in the game. We’ll never see something like Paul van der Haar having a smoke at the 3/4 time huddle or Mick Nolan shoving half a dozen dim sims down his throat as a half time snack.

    But the thing that worries me is the gradual phasing out of the physical contests in the game. We’re going to see less shepherding and bumping, and that’s a shame. Despite the changes, I have no doubt that our boys still play the toughest football code on earth.

  7. jon

    $850 for 2 grams? I coulda done him a way better deal.

    How about the media sign up to an innocent until proven guilty code like the justice system? Then they can go about reporting real news.

    I reckon there was a better story about that sweet mo he was wearing. Anyone with that sorta ‘stash has to carry at least a little coke on his person.

  8. TVOR

    Agree with you to some degree Rev, particularly with the media and public (though aren’t we just doing the same with this post?) but think you’re off the money with a couple of points.
    -Charges: he wasn’t charged with possessing a traffickable quantity, but with trafficking. He (allegedly) stated he bought it for him mates. This is trafficking by definition (providing to others). He would have been better off saying it was for personal use (but would have then been slated by GFC).
    – GFC: I think they’ve acted appropriately. Their recent track record is pretty good. As others have stated, if Stokes can’t work out that these actions are likely to cost him his career, given the education programs and constant media attention, then he’s a moron and deserves no sympathy.
    – There are numerous careers that this sort of action would damage / end. Footballers aren’t on their own here.

    My tip – Stokes will get a bond with no conviction, which is appropriate for a first time offender. He’ll play again, and be held up in time to come as an example of how he ‘turned it all around’. It is better that these incidents are not ignored or swept under the carpet so we don’t end up with train wrecks like Carey dominating our headlines post football. I realise we come from different ideological views on this topic, but your points on media and the general public are well made.

    • I think this is the first TVOR post that lives up to its name as ‘reasonable’! Well put.

      I agree Geelong have acted appropriately (assuming the allegations are true). Reports are just coming in that they have determined that Stokes can’t play until Rd 8 and has to get a full-time job (still lacking on detail ATM) – this seems like a fair punishment to me. While my post doesn’t necessarily convey it, I think his actions can’t go by unnoticed and he deserves some disciplinary action.

      Re: Charges – I thought that might be the case. Question to you – is their any consideration given if you buy drugs for someone else, without the intent of selling/profiting from it (which Stokes may or may not have intended on doing)? I see a big difference in buying a tiny parcel for a mate than buying a not so tiny parcel to on-sell.

      Re: Careers – yes, judges, police and politicians would all likely lose their careers over a similar incident. They work in the area of arbiters of justice, and society can rightfully expect them to uphold their own code. With footballers it’s a different argument – the roll model argument that always comes up in these circumstances. And while I agree that footballers should forfeit some rights as soon as they sign that lucrative AFL contract, I don’t believe the current balance is anywhere near appropriate – I think they get over-scrutinised by a factor of about a godzillion.

      • TVOR

        Yeah, we’re all just so obsessed about celebrity that I don’t see any hope of redressing the current imbalance in media intrusion. But keep up the good fight.

        In reply to your qn, no, not profiting from drugs passed to others does not affect the charge of trafficking. It is a mitigating factor in sentencing only.

        I think you’ll find the list of careers is much longer than just the few you mentioned. Consider doctors, taxi drivers, teachers – basically anyone who has a ‘code of conduct’ attached to their contract. The same PR issues that terrify Demetriou occupy the nightmares of large private companies too. Just remember the recent tea cup storm over the ‘Miranda Kerr picture saga’ with Macquarie Bank. How would it have played out if it was found the ‘pervert’ had convictions for drug trafficking too?

  9. It’s been reported that Geelong has suspended Stokes until round 8. Personally, I think that’s a little bit light – I would have given him 11 weeks off – so he can consider himself very lucky.

    • The penalty includes other stipulations including like getting a full-time job, which are quite strict. Also, it’s worth remembering that the penalty is irrespective of the outcome of the criminal investigation – if the outcome finds Stokes guilty of trafficking it will bring the AFL into play, who, under the OTT WADA code, have to suspend Stokes for a minimum of four years (maximum – life).

      In light of this, I think the current penalty handed down by Geelong is hard but fair.

      • I have to say, I’m one of those who isn’t keen on WADA having such a big influence on AFL drug policy. I can understand WADA operating for international sports where there is variation on the drug testing regimes in different countries. But AFL football is only played professionally here. By submitting to a worldwide body, there is little allowance for the nuances and societal expectations at a local level.

        I think that most people feel that Stokes should be punished, but by the same token, I think most people would think it’s overly harsh for Stokes to lose his career. This is the weakness of WADA.

        I know the AFL were forced by the government to sign up for WADA, but if Stokes is found guilty, then a 4 year suspension from sport seems to be far too harsh.

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