Night Games Makes for Interesting Night Reading

It’s not often you are sent something for free that ends up making you so angry you’re grateful you received it.

Recently when I re-subscribed to an online news site I was sent a complimentary copy of Night Games. Written by Anna Krien it examines the act of gangbangs and team bonding in Rugby and Australian Rules Football.

I remember the PR and social media that surrounded the book when it was first released. But to be honest I struggled with what new revelations it could provide on the subject. From Four Corners to A Current Affair everyone was reporting about this sordid act of team bonding in 2009. It all came to light when one brave woman in New Zealand spoke out about her encounter with players from the Cronulla Sharks. It was so revealing it dominated our headlines for almost a year.

It was everywhere and clubs all around the nation were in damage control. This had been happening for decades and now they’re finally admitting to it.Night Games Image

Krien goes back there, and I say go back because it felt like the conversation had been exhausted. However this time instead of going over well-trampled territory Krien went somewhere new. She went inside the courtroom and reported on the case where Collingwood recruit Justin Dyer faced sexual assault charges after their 2010 AFL Grand Final victory.

Yes, just one year later and no one had learnt their lesson.

Her first hand account of how the justice system works in a case of sexual assault was compelling. From the way male dominated juries are picked to how evidence is presented or excluded. I don’t like to think of myself as naïve when talking about justice and rape but this certainly opened my eyes, and rattled my cage.

In this particular case the victim had been subjected to a ‘gang bang’ by a group of Collingwood players, however a very well paid QC managed to get this discredited and thrown out of court. This left the victim with just one count of sexual assault against only one player. When there are multiple perpetrators and only one count brought before the court the case is left with so many holes it cannot possibly stand up.

However what this also does is create that grey area between consent and assault. That seed of doubt is all one jury member needs to sway them all. But it also sends a message out to the rest of the community that ‘no’ may not necessarily mean ‘no’.

And when we open that can of worms we send ourselves back not decades, but centuries.

For sexual assaults it is not a case of proving the accuser’s innocence but damaging the credibility of the victim.

Blow by blow in Night Games you watch a woman’s case be subjected to conjecture to the point that nothing seemed relevant anymore. All the while it is played against a backdrop of misogyny and sexism in sport.

Female CEO’s, journalists, fans and girlfriends are continuously disrespected not by one but many within the sport.  Angrier and angrier, I could not put this book down.

I don’t follow Rugby or Australian Rules and don’t even entertain conversations about these games. However when I started reading Night Games it was during the finals season and whenever someone tried talking Rugby or Rules to me I told them what I was reading. Funnily enough, the fan would grimace and the conversation soon ended. It’s as though they knew this was happening but did not want to know for the sake of their pride in the game.

Women particularly would look at me strange.

Why would any woman want to read such work?

Simple. If we don’t we may as well give up now.

Published on: Oct 27, 2013, Discordia