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Australian tennis star Dylan Alcott has shared the extent of the vile abuse he copped after tweeting a joke about the AFL earlier this year.
Alcott found himself at the centre of controversy back in April, when North Melbourne were on the wrong end of a 128-point thumping by the Western Bulldogs.
'WHAT A DISGRACE': AFL world erupts over 'horrendous' farce
The 30-year-old tweeted 'Legit reckon I could get a kick for North Melbourne at the minute', prompting a slight backlash after former Kangaroos defender Sam Durdin accused him of hypocrisy.
Durdin labelled it a 'shocking comment', with many others jumping on Alcott over the gag.
It was far from all fun and games though, with Alcott revealing the heated debate had prompted a deluge of ugly responses directed at him.
Speaking on The Howie Games podcast with Mark Howard, Alcott said it was the 'craziest' response he'd had to anything in his career.
“I was joking but it rubbed the wrong chord and I would never call someone out individually, never ever as an athlete, a person – never,” Alcott said.
“But it was a team and you know what, even me saying that is a negative thing. I thought, I could have checked myself there.
“But then I just opened myself up to the craziest tweets I’ve ever got.
“Then it’s like, ‘Why can you make a joke about your disability and I can’t call you a f***ing dumb cripple?’
“And then it was just on and on. ‘They should lock you all up in a pen’. ‘Why do they even let you out of the home?’ Like, crazy stuff.
“It is disgusting.”
Alcott said some of the abuse he copped was reminiscent of his turn on the panel of the AFL Footy Show, following the departure of long-time hosts Sam Newman and Eddie McGuire.
However, the 13-time grand slam winner said he had learned to deal with that kind of commentary.
“I just realised that these people are nameless faces with fake accounts who have no lives, who have a photo of a car as a display pic or whatever it is," he said.
“They’re writing, ‘What does this old mate cripple, no legs know about footy?’ ‘Eff this guy’ … ‘Get this effing R-word off my TV’.
“But by reading one tweet or listening to one podcast, they don’t know the person. They think they do, but they know the persona. So if they’re abusing the persona, don’t worry, you’ve got to separate yourself from who you actually are."
Dylan Alcott called out over joke AFL tweet
North Melbourne were outclassed from the opening bounce, but former Kangaroos defender Sam Durdin noticed Alcott's tweet and replied, arguing he was making light of disabilities.
"For a sporting professional who’s so vocal about the treatment of people with disabilities this is a shocking comment,” Durdin said.
Alcott's remark sparked something of a debate on social media as to whether or not it was an appropriate comment.
Some defended it as a simple tongue in cheek remark, while others argued it was a double standard.
Durdin was one of 11 players to be delisted by the Kangaroos at the end of the 2020 AFL season, as the club embarks on a rebuild following several years mired in the bottom half of the ladder.
He played 22 games over four seasons for North Melbourne, returning to South Australia to star for Glenelg in the SANFL after his AFL career came to an end.
Alcott told Howard his experience of abuse after being announced as one of the Footy Show's new hosts had helped him deal with the controversy.
“Everyone was like, ‘Bring Sam Newman back’,” Alcott said to Howard.
“I’m so lucky, I get mad love online. I only have a small group (of haters), and it’s since I got involved in the footy world of all places, where people really get stuck in.
“I’m so lucky, it was one of the best experiences ever hosting The Footy Show – because I used to look at the stuff written about me and get upset. It made me realise I could not give a s**t about what they write about me."
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