WHAT could have been a cautionary tale has seen the Transport Accident Commission cut off its nose to spite its face, ending negotiations with Geelong over a new sponsorship deal worth about $200,000 because Joel Selwood was caught speeding.
The high profile Cats skipper was caught driving at 127kmh in 100kmh zone.
On Tuesday, 11 days later, the TAC officially announced its decision in a press release: “In January 2015, the Cats stated publicly that in the event of any further serious incidents the partnership would be relinquished, and the TAC respects the club’s integrity.’’
Chief executive Brian Cook made the 2015 statement after Dawson Simpson, now at GWS, was caught drink-driving.
Still, the sponsorship remained in place despite the drink-driving charge.
Clearly, the TAC wasn’t backing down this time.
It had every right not to.
Its powerfully emotional messaging tries to help loved ones stop killing themselves and others while driving and there would be some people reading this wondering, crying, regretting that their son or daughter, mum or dad did not heed the warnings.
But the TAC also had every right to use this situation to further its cause.
Selwood didn’t kill anyone. He might have, but he didn’t.
He sped while overtaking another vehicle and, while some people consider the next argument quite flimsy, others don’t: That is, almost everyone speeds — including Victoria’s current top cop Graham Ashton (January, 2017) and former top cop Ken Lay (January, 2010). Including TAC staff.
Last November information received by the Herald Sun under Freedom of Information laws found that 81 speeding and red-light offences were recorded by TAC employees since January 2012.
Were they sacked or disciplined?
This not a flag-waving salvo to save the reputation of Joel Selwood.
He made a mistake, he apologised and received national humiliation.
But to cut off the sponsorship when the high-profile AFL captain could have been used nationally in an advert to further send the message about the dangers of speeding is a missed opportunity.
The TAC could highlight it caught the idiot doing 127kmh as a separate campaign, but if it didn’t highlight the stupidity and carelessness of Ashton and Lay — let alone its own employees — there’s no way it can hang Selwood out to dry.
Instead, it could have easily accepted Geelong’s offer after Dawson — which it did — but stressed to everyone a much bigger statement could be made by using Selwood as cautionary tale.
The TAC obviously had its reasons. But if it believes stripping Geelong of $200,000 and presumably all of its logos on attire will stop people speeding, it is kidding itself.
What’s the better chance of saving lives: Having Selwood on TV, in newspapers and on radio for a footy season pleading with young people to stop speeding?
Or cancelling a club sponsorship and making noise for a day?
Stopping people killing themselves on the road should be an all-community stance and I just think Selwood working with the TAC could have helped immeasurably.
Instead, the TAC used the stick when it might have considered the honey.