While they’re ordinarily a spot for a pithy gag or word of encouragement, on Friday the Melbourne Football Club will take the humble footy banner and spin it into something else entirely, thanks to a woven-together selection of actual online bullying and harassment.
The AFL is currently enduring something of a crisis in terms of abuse on social media from fans; the league’s Indigenous fraternity has already issued a public pledge to name and shame punters levelling racist slurs on social media posts, and the AFLW community rallied around Carlton forward Tayla Harris amid a particularly nasty campaign of targeted sexist abuse. But this weekend the Demons will take it one step further.
This Friday night, Melbourne will run out onto the MCG through a banner made up entirely of actual examples of online abuse and harassment directed at players by fans on social media.
The stunt is part of an on-going campaign by the Reach Foundation aimed at “tearing down” online bullying, with the idea being that the players will run through the banner, symbolically ripping the abuse apart.
This Friday night before the Melbourne vs Essendon game, the Melbourne players will run through a banner made out of real negative tweets that they have received over the course of their careers.
— The Reach Foundation (@wearereach) April 2, 2019
The Reach Foundation – established in part by late Demons great and beloved footy icon Jim Stynes – provides spaces for youth to connect and honestly express the troubles that go on in their lives, and encourages them to develop empathy and resilience.
This round is part of a broader fundraising push for Reach, with fans encouraged to donate via text message across the weekend’s footy.
Melbourne, currently languishing on the bottom of the AFL ladder after two rounds, takes on the equally embattled Essendon at the MCG this Friday night at 7:50pm.