I love to sledge … but don’t cross the line

I love a bit of banter on, and sometimes off, the field. Trading barbs with my opponent gets me in the zone and puts me in the right frame of mind. When I have a point to prove, I play my best footy.

Banter is a big part of sport. It’s a way to put off your opponent, get a mental edge or have a laugh when things become tense or stressful. You can debate whether banter is in the spirit of the game or if there’s any evidence of it actually working, however some players will do anything to try and distract their opponents.

Tayla Harris’ direct opponent had some unvarnished commentary on her game after they met in round two.Credit:AAP

One of my favourite sledges was asking a prominent player if she’d been to the Olympics because she was so good at diving. And when I was in my first year at the Western Bulldogs, a young cross-code basketballer stood next to me at the centre bounce and asked me innocently, “Can I move from where I’m starting before the ball is bounced?” As my smile widened, I responded, “Nah, you’re not allowed to move. You have to stay completely still until the rucks touch the ball.” To my delight, she took my advice hook, line and sinker so I continued with, “I can move, but you can’t”. I won the clearance– and didn’t even feel bad.

As a player who regularly engages in verbal exchanges, I’m yet to encounter a sledge that is of the quality of ex-Geelong and GWS player Steve Johnson, who was famous for his sledging. Most players know I enjoy a bit of banter, however as I’m getting older, I’ve become less lippy, if you can believe it.


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