The social media pages of 7AFL have reinstated a photo of Carlton AFLW player Tayla Harris booting a Sherrin into the stratosphere, saying their decision to pull the image last night “sent the wrong message.”
In a statement accompanying the reposted photo, 7AFL said their response to yesterday’s onslaught of gross, sexist comments was misguided.
“Many of the comments made on the post were reprehensible & we’ll work harder to ban trolls on our pages,” the outlet said.
“Our intention was to highlight Tayla Harris’ incredible athleticism and we’ll continue to showcase and celebrate women’s footy.”
The photo, captured by Michael Willson during the Blues’ 6.5 (41) to 5.8 (38) win over the Western Bulldogs on Sunday, shows Harris airborne with her kicking foot nearly level with her head.
While the image was shared as an earnest display of Harris’ athleticism and was received as such by most social media users, the photo also drew commentary from the kind of backwards, sexist gronks who couldn’t guide a footy through the uprights if their life depended on it.
7AFL’s initial response of binning the post instead of pruning the offensive comments was seen as a capitulation to trolls, but the outlet’s recognition of that fact has been applauded.
Kudos @7AFL possibly the first ever 'we were wrong tweet'.
Though the upshot of the initial mistake has been inadvertently fantastic for @aflwomens My feed is filled with that brilliant pic of @taylaharriss and a chorus of positivity which has drowned out the scum. Outstanding!
— Grant Walker (@GjW33) March 19, 2019
Thank you for reposting ❤️ stand united and proud and drown out the negativity together ???? #carltonrespect
So much to be proud of in this photo it deserves to be shared and shared and shared ????
— Shelley Ware (@ShelleyWare) March 19, 2019
You deserved all the criticism you got tonight for your original decision. However, you should be praised for realizing that removing the photo was a mistake – hope lessons will be learnt from this about how to handle similar situations in the future (if they unfortunately arise)
— Jeff Miles (@Jeffmister) March 19, 2019
The photo itself has also drawn a little bit of international attention. The Good Place star and body positivity advocate Jameela Jamil, who has long advocated for the ability of women to do their thing without being objectified, expressed her appreciation for the punt.
Love this ❤️❤️❤️❤️
— Jameela Jamil (@jameelajamil) March 19, 2019
The decision to reinstate the photo comes amid a broader conversation about the power of online message boards and comment sections, and their ability to spread toxic ideologies.
Whether other media outlets and tech companies take note is yet to be seen.
Harris is expected to appear for the Blues this Saturday in their preliminary final bout against Fremantle at Princes Park.Image: Michael Wilson / AFL Media / Getty Images