How Harry O’Brien unwittingly showed a few sports presenters up for being uneducated and lacking in class

Harry O'Brien.

When 26 year old Collingwood star Harry O’Brien made his comments the other week about ‘going through a tough time at the moment’, and whilst leaving training he politely requested reporters to have sensitivity to him, he came as quite a shock to most of us.

It wasn’t the sort of honest and thoughtful delivery to come out of a football players’ mouth when it comes to these kinds of matters, before they’ve done something horrendous as a result.   But then Harry O’Brien has always been cut from a different cloth and sadly I suspect he has a lot of the world around him not having a clue on how to take him, therefore feeling the need to articulate what’s going on in his head.

“I’m going through a history … of things for a long time, including a long and very complicated history of sexual abuse, suicide, depression, seeing someone get murdered, knowing who murdered that person and not being able to say anything, knowing that person will probably murder you.”

But this does not mean that he has let the club down by playing badly leading up to this time.  It also does not necessarily mean that clashing with Nathan Buckley means that Harry just happens to be touchy either.

What I noticed from the ensuing sports reporters, especially those on the TV news, was that there was those that told the story with a genuine air of concern in their delivery and tone, and then there were those that although containing their glee of having a nice little juicy story to gee up the ratings with, used the dismissive word rant to describe Harry’s honest admissions.

Now it may just be a word, but sometimes just one word can speak volumes of what the person using it is really trying to say.  Or may not be officially allowed to say, or might simply be too gutless to say.  But I’ll pop my worldly goods on the fact that they know exactly what they are saying nonetheless.

The word rant by definition is often linked to someone speaking in an angry, loud, bombastic or even violent way.  How would this then relate to Harry O’Brien can you tell me?

It’s been used in the media to describe terrorist speeches, dictators such as Hitler addressing a crowd, or even neo Nazi’s spewing forth their white supremacy beliefs, but rarely a gentle natured man requesting some breathing space so he can do his job temporarily without the intrusion of any media prodding.

I’m suspicious I have to say that Nathan Buckley has “removed the burden of leadership” from Harry and is resting him again as they did last weekend.  Sure, if there were an inability to cope with your job there would be a case to give him time off.  I would really hope this was genuinely done in conjunction with Harrys’ desires, as the one thing that I know is that fresh air and exercise can be a great benefit for a person suffering from certain kinds of depression.

Again, perhaps Harry doesn’t need the extra group time and energy of being on the club’s leadership board just now, but again I hope that wasn’t a decision made for him as taking away one of the positive things in someone’s life that gives them a feeling of esteem and worthiness is not something to take away as one is possibly crumbling inside.

I know it’s wishful thinking to hope that all those around Harry O’Brien and those that are following his story would choose to see him as a brave and sensitive type of man, rather than one who likes a random rant.

It’s so weak as a journalist or anyone discussing Harry O’Brien to say he went on a rant.  A rant in regards to football is dialogue more styled at an umpire who made a bad decision according to a player.  Or what comes out of their mouth after a binge drinking session because that’s how they chose to deal with their demons.





40 thoughts on “How Harry O’Brien unwittingly showed a few sports presenters up for being uneducated and lacking in class

  1. From the moment that Harry O’brien laid it on the line, I had nothing but empathy and respect for his courageous admissions.

    I observed the reactions from the various professional autocue interpreters and they served only to reinforce my gut feelings that certain branches of the sports media – and mainstream – are stuck in this late 70’s vortex, where a man expressing his innermost feelings is something to be ridiculed.

    Harry O’brien wasn’t going to play that game – *their* game – and a good few people didn’t know how to take that.

    For the more enlightened of us men out there, those, who have evolved beyond their father’s “suck it up princess” mentality, Obrien’s frank admissions were a lightning bolt moment.

    For someone who has battled depression, has felt isolated and alone because of it and who has considered suicide, I felt Harry’s revelations really did mean something significant.

    The media pack are too far behind to have the intelligence to understand.

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