The story began with Melbourne Demons danger man Aaron Davey. He was targeted as a threat to the Blues' chance of winning the game. The result was a tactic to unsettle Davey through close checking (marking) and physical intimidation.
Carlton Coach Brett Ratten explained that, "Aaron's [Davey – Melbourne] probably in the top five players in the competition for effectiveness when he does kick the football. So it [the intimidation] was more to reduce his kicks than anything else."
Carlton player Heath Scotland said. "We had a team role to shut him [Davey] out of the game." As the siren sounded for the first break, the Blues charged Davey hoping to upset and distract him from his game.
The interesting moment occurred after this clash between the Demon's Davey and the Carlton players. Carlton's Eddie Betts made his way to Davey and gave him what appeared to be a friendly pat of encouragement. Betts and Davey both share indigenous backgrounds and a friendship.
What was the reaction? Betts' teammate Mitch Robinson appeared to hit his team mate's arm and stomach while they exchanged words straight after this incident. A Carlton official acknowledged the incident, but refused to comment. It appeared Betts was admonished for expressing his friendship and support towards Davey.
The incident raises an important question. What place does friendship play on the field? Should Betts' be admonished for his encouragement of an old friend?
In other words, is mateship conditional: Only to be shown if it is not in conflict with team tactics.
Carlton player Marc Murphy was critical of his team mate's (Betts) encouragement of an opponent. ''I think you save that for the end of the game,'' he told Channel Seven's AFL Game Day. ''We made a focus of trying to get into the Melbourne boys and I think Eddie and Aaron are pretty good mates, sort of save that for the end of the game.''
It appears that some believe that friendship is conditional on other factors such as if the coach allows it or when a game starts or stops.
Compare this situation with the concept of unconditional love shown by Christ who sacrificed Himself in His love to each one of us. It is a love without such conditions.
The Bible urges Jesus' followers to follow His example in using their gifts, the greatest is an unconditional love (1 Corinthians 13): "Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres."
Yet, Jesus was Himself in competition with Satan, remember the Temptations. So competition is real, and demands not only our best but every last ounce of strength and determination to bring success to the endeavour.
Here we have two attitudes that sit side by side. Sure, one can express friendship to a mate on the sporting field, but when the action comes, every last effort is given to make good the result.