Steve Price has hit back at criticism thrown his way after a controversial opinion article he wrote on Friday last week.
Price took aim at the AFLW in a scathing column, in which he bizarrely stated high school football players produced a better product.
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Price was critical of the low-scoring nature of the contests and said the AFLW isn’t an “elite sport”.
AFLW is semi-professional with almost all players needing other jobs to support themselves, and is just five years old.
“Last weekend – in week five of the nine-round AFLW – one team managed a solitary point for the whole game,” Price wrote.
“In many sports, elite women’s competition is every bit as exciting to watch as any men’s equivalent.
“But AFLW is not elite sport and the female version of the Australian game of football is substandard. It is not deserving of the attention and funding it gets.”
On Monday night Price appeared on The Project alongside Peter Helliar, Carrie Bickmore and Waleed Aly to discuss his article and the nature of the conversation quickly turned frosty.
“Let’s talk about your article on the AFLW last week that got a few people worked up,” Bickmore said.
“You knew exactly what you were doing and executed it perfectly. So it’s in its fifth year, things take time to build.”
Price then said the article was simply his own opinion, which he said was the beauty of sport, before pointing out AFLW’s low crowd numbers.
“Great thing about sport is you can all have an opinion and debate about I, which is what I was doing. I genuinely, whenever I write a column like that I absolutely 100% believe it,” he said.
“Again yesterday you had a one-point score from one of the teams and the crowds are simply not going. You had a crowd about two weeks ago of 540 people only.”
Aly interjected: “Where was that?”
Price responded: “That was a game between North Melbourne and the Cats, Geelong, played in Melbourne.”
Aly then brought up the 20,000 crowd figure that attended an AFLW game at Adelaide Oval, but Price shut that down with a dig at Adelaide.
“Adelaide is an exception in this for some reason. There is nothing else to do in Adelaide so they are going to AFLW clearly. When the men’s game is not on the crowds are not improving.”
But it was when Helliar got involved that things took a frosty turn as he put the flamethrower on Price and questioned if he simply “didn’t like women playing physical sport”.
Helliar: “This idea Pricey that there’s one point scored, I mean I messaged you over the weekend.”
Price: “That’s not entertainment. How can that be entertaining?”
Helliar: “Debate. Go back to 1899 St Kilda scored a point against Geelong. They did it a year after…”
Price: “That’s because a horse and cart wasn’t available to get to the game.”
Helliar: “Pricey Geelong scored 23.24 in the same game. Things will develop. What was disappointing about your article, you know how I feel about this, two weeks ago you were supposedly cancelled and now you are using one of your very powerful media forums to, I feel, you are very successful and you have worked hard but I feel like you have put your foot on the throat of an industry that is trying. I think of my sisters who are footy mad and they would have loved to have dreamt to play AFLW. This is better than it was four years ago, it will continue to get better.”
Price: “Let me clear up what I am saying simply. I think the AFL went too early and too hard. There is not enough talent to fill 18 teams. They should have gone more quietly and you wouldn’t have the issues you are having at the moment. I think the media exposure is extraordinary for something that is not very good.”
But it was shortly after the conversation turned to the NRLW that Helliar threw a stinging barb in Price’s direction, when he called him out for not liking women playing physical sport.
Waleed Aly: “Do you just not like women’s footy. Do you not like the NRL either which is good quality.”
Price: “I don’t think it is good enough to get the media exposure it gets.”
Helliar: “I suspect you don’t like women playing physical sport is that true?”
Price: “Did you read the column? I gave about seven examples of great female sport, golf, racing..”
Helliar: “Not physical crash and bash sports.”
Price: “Netball, basketball, I gave all those examples in that column. I don’t have a problem with women’s sport, women’s sport is fantastic, AFLW isn’t.”
Helliar: “Punching down to this industry that is five years in. We have had this debate for a while but to see it in print, to use this megaphone that you have to bash a league.”
Price: “I’m not doing anything. I’m simply saying it is not good quality. How can one game with one point scored be good quality.”
Helliar: “St Kilda have improved since 1899, they really have.”