Malcolm Blight has added his voice to the criticism of the decision to honour Tayla Harris’ iconic kick with a statue.
A photograph of the kick became a viral sensation earlier this year after sparking a spirited defence of women in sport when Harris was targeted by online trolls posting offensive comments.
‘TIME TO MOVE ON’: Don Pyke steps down as Adelaide coach
The 22-year-old AFLW player said she was humbled by the 3.3m tall statue, which was unveiled at Federation Square but does not yet have a permanent home.
"It doesn't matter if you're a man or a woman, young or old - everyone has a right to do what they love," Harris said.
"That's what I want people to see when they look at this."
However the statue has sparked some controversy, with debate raging about whether Harris actually deserves it.
On Thursday, AFL legend Blight described it as “ludicrous” and “mystifying”.
“She is getting a statue for being trolled online. Mystifying to me,” Blight said on Sportsday SA Radio.
“One of the most mystifying things I have ever heard of. I am not happy about it.
“We have Sam our producer, Ben another producer and Will our panel operator they have all been trolled online — I want a statue of one of these three to go alongside Tayla Harris because that’s how ludicrous and silly the whole thing is.
“What’s the difference between a male and a female in that environment?
“What about all the AFL players, all the SANFL players, all the WAFL players, all those players around Australia being trolled by d***heads, on a medium that I know very little about? Why aren’t they getting a statue? That’s how stupid the whole thing is.”
On Wednesday, many observers claimed there were other female sporting stars in Australia who deserved such an honour.
Not against the Tayla Harris statue if it means we get like 15 Erin Phillips statues.— Adam Liaw (@adamliaw) September 11, 2019
Faced with a dilemma...— Ned Balme (@NedBalmeLives) September 11, 2019
How do I express my opinion that the Tayla Harris statue (albeit a tremendous sight) is way too soon, without being accosted for being a misogynistic prick?
Tayla Harris could well deserve a statue at the end of her career.— Ned Balme (@NedBalmeLives) September 11, 2019
But just six months after the fact seems like an opportunistic promotional tool (eg; NAB, in Fed Square, during Finals) rather than treating it like you would other great careers/moments.
There should be more statues honouring female sporting legends...Cathy Freeman, Evonne Goolagong Cawley, Michelle Payne etc. But the Tayla Harris statue also celebrates the broader impact of womens sport and footy on our culture. For that it should be welcomed and embraced.— NickMcCallum7 (@NickMcCallum7) September 11, 2019
If Tayla Harris gets a statue in Fed Square, Erin Phillips should be on the coat of arms. Fair dinkum.— Slug (@likeanappled) September 11, 2019
Tayla Harris gets a statue ahead of the likes of Cathy Freeman, Lauren Jackson, Ellyse Perry, Sally Pearson, Karrie Webb and Michelle Timms? 🤨🤨— Ronny Lerner (@RonnyLerner) September 11, 2019
I just think there is more deserving AFL women's players at the moment before Tayla Harris. lets be honest its always going to be remember for the trolling of the photo and not the kick it self. should of waited till she retired.— Damion Maher (@Damion23) September 11, 2019
However there were also hoards of fans who celebrated the move.
Harris stance resonates worldwide
Harris's vocal stand against the abuse resonated around the world and drew messages of support from Prime Minister Scott Morrison and a slew of high profile athletes.
The AFL has been rocked by a number of social media controversies this season.
A number of Aboriginal players in the men's competition suffered racist taunts in the weeks after Harris's trolling, sparking campaigns against online bullying by clubs and the sport's governing body.
"Online trolling is an ongoing issue and something we're continuing to work on," Harris's teammate Darcy Vescio said at Federation Square.
"It's changed things for Tayla and for all of us, giving us the power to speak out.
"Online trolling occurs every day to a variety of people, but this was the moment people said 'no', and the power was given back to the person who was being abused."