Garry Lyon has ripped into “cowards” after a photo of an AFLW star caused headlines for all the wrong reasons this week.
Garry Lyon has slammed online trolls who were exposed by Sarah Perkins for body shaming the AFLW star after a loss on the weekend.
Perkins posted a photo of herself to social media after Gold Coast’s three-point defeat to St Kilda on Sunday and some comments on the tweet mocked her fitness and appearance.
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In response to what some called “vile” remarks, Perkins tweeted: “2 from 2 this evening … anyone other bloke/fake account wanna comment on my size, body shape, athleticism? More than happy to hear feedback about my football skill/ability but unfortunately not everyone can be a size 6!”
Underneath her words Perkins included a screenshot of comments taking aim at her body shape and also wrote on her Instagram story “S**t like this will never get old”, adding two emojis of a hand sticking its middle finger up.
Speaking on SEN Breakfast on Wednesday, Melbourne legend Lyon said Perkins was targeted by “gutless, spineless cowards” as his co-host, Essendon great Tim Watson, questioned whether athletes’ fitness levels could still be discussed without accusations of “fat shaming”.
“That shouldn’t also mean that we can’t have a conversation about the fitness levels of players be they male players or female players and the way that people turn themselves out to play the game, should we?” Watson said.
“I don’t want to fat shame anybody. But I’m just saying that if you’re playing an elite sport, is it a legitimate conversation to have about that or not?
“(Essendon star) Jake Stringer was part of this conversation not last season but the season before and others and now it’s like, ‘Can you still talk about that without fat shaming somebody?’”
Lyon said it’s unfair to judge AFLW players to the same standards as their male counterparts because they are not full-time professionals — and are not paid nearly as much as AFL stars.
“They (AFLW players) aspire to be full-time and full-time professional but it is married up with the fact that they aren’t at this stage of their careers,” Lyon said.
“They aren’t in that zone, they’ve still got to do other things and work … so the criticism is tempered somewhat by the fact they aren’t fully professional.
“They’re getting there and they will be judged along those lines when they do arrive at that point.”
The footy world was quick to wrap its arms around Perkins after she exposed some of the grim replies to her photo. Collingwood AFLW star Steph Chiocci tweeted: “People are just jealous they have never achieved anything worth posting about. Got your back always. Can’t wait to see you kick more snags from 50m out and lay tackles like a boss.”
Sports broadcaster and podcaster Neroli Meadows wrote: “You’re a ripper human hun. Remember that above all else. Those who know you, love you.”
Sports reporter Dominique Loudon said: “You’re amazing to watch Sarah! Unfortunately, there will always be undesirables on social media. As Brene Brown says, ‘If you’re not in the arena also getting your a** kicked, I’m not interested in your feedback’.”
Journalist Mark Gottlieb said of the abuse directed towards Perkins: “This is vile. We have such a long way to go as a society.”