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Jack Viney banned for two matches

Melbourne Demon Jack Viney hits twitter after being suspended for two matches following a collision with Adelaide's Tom Lynch that left the Crow with a broken jaw.

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WHY IS IT SUCH A BIG DEAL?

Ex-players, commentators and fans fear that vigorous body contact, a cornerstone of the game, is threatened by the Jack Viney verdict.

Melbourne's Jack Viney (number 7) collides with Tom Lynch and Alex Georgiou.

Melbourne's Jack Viney (number 7) collides with Tom Lynch and Alex Georgiou. Photo: afl.com.au/Fox Footy

Critics believe that contact between Viney and his opponent was accidental and unavoidable and his suspension unfair and creates confusion around what players can and cannot do in a physical contest.

Players are expected to exhibit fanatical commitment at the contest, but now have to assess, in a split-second, how to avoid contact that could injure an opponent or earn them weeks off.

Pulling out of a contest to avoid such contact goes against everything coaches, fans and teammates demand of a player, and the tradition of the game.

Jack Viney leaves the tribunal after Tuesday night's hearing

Jack Viney leaves the tribunal after Tuesday night's hearing Photo: Angela Wylie

Many feel that such decisions are phasing body contact out of football by stealth.

THE MOST PASSIONATE RESPONSE?

Jude Bolton, writing in The Age, slammed the decision: ''The panic button has been well and truly pushed on the state of the game with regards to the match review panel and tribunal system.''

Hawthorn great and commentator Dermott Brereton has said that he will boycott Hall Of Fame events this year in protest at the ''fundamentally wrong'' direction the game is taking.

Carlton coach Mick Malthouse said he was ''bamboozled'' by the decision, and the decision could fundamentally change the way the game is played.

WHY HAS THE AFL GOT ITSELF IN SUCH A PICKLE?

The league is keen to protect players from head injuries, especially concussion, and unnecessary contact away from contests. Many say the fear of litigation from ex-players, rampant in America’s NFL, drives such considerations as much as concern for player welfare but it is a fact that there were more than 100 concussions in the 2013 season. It changed the rules last year to hold players who choose to bump accountable for the consequences of their actions, accidental or not. Unfortunately, there is contact that is not a ''bump'', that will also do damage. In this case, the tribunal designated Viney’s actions as a bump, so under the rules, he had to be held accountable for Lynch’s injuries. The other reason, long held, for the AFL ''cleaning up'' Aussie Rules is to keep the game appealing to parents, who may not want their kids playing a dangerous game. Violent conduct has long since been wiped out – now it is the violent clashes in the course of play that cause serious injury that are under scrutiny.

IT IS ODD THAT ...

The tribunal found Viney guilty as charged, but its jury rated the contact as ''medium'', which reduced his suspension to two weeks. It was a heavy clash that helped break the jaw of Lynch. Does this suspension reveal unease from the jury at the tribunal’s ruling?

THE CONTRARY VOICES

afl.com.au’s Damien Barrett was a voice in the wilderness in supporting the verdict, saying if you cause damage to an opponent's head, expect a penalty.

And Port Adelaide star Chad Wingard told the Adelaide Advertiser: ''If they think they need to knuckle down on a certain issue, and the bump is obviously an issue, that's what they're going to do to look after everyone's welfare.''

THE FEELINGS OF THE FANS

An Age poll asked readers: Should the AFL ban the bump in order to clarify rules surrounding player contact?

The response so far: 87 per cent said no.

Adrian, a talkback caller to SEN, said that players should strike in protest at the decision.

Many commenters on Jesse Hogan’s Age report said they would turn their back on football as a result of the ruling.

Social media response has been overwhelmingly critical. On twitter, see #freeviney and #viney

HAS ANYONE CONSIDERED…?

... That if the ball had bounced differently, Jack Viney could have ended up being contacted by Tom Lynch. There was so little time involved in all the decision-making now undergoing forensic analysis by slow motion.

WHAT NEXT?

The appeal hearing takes place 5pm Thursday night. The Appeals Board - featuring different members to those who heard the initial case - has the power to uphold or dismiss the suspension. Theoretically, it can also increase the penalty.

Melbourne's appeal will be on the grounds that ''that the decision was so unreasonable, that no tribunal acting reasonably could have come to that decision having regard to the evidence before it''. 

THE CATCHPHRASE TO EMERGE?

''Pirouette''

AFL legal counsel Jeff Gleeson submitted that Jack Viney could have ''spun out'' of his collision with Tom Lynch, instead of bracing for contact. The twitterverse, and many journalists, took this to mean that AFL players now had to perform elaborate ballet moves to avoid hurting their opponents.

The word ''pirouette'' soon became representative of this new AFL world order and of most unmanly, stupid or heinous imposts upon sensible modern civilisation.

The closest word to pirouette actually mentioned in the proceedings was the far humbler ''pivot''.