“Careless” bumps: is it time for on-field punishments?


Kysaiah Pickett, Shane McAdam and Lance Franklin all faced MRO scrutiny. Photo compiled from Fox Sports.


After just one round, the bump has made its way back into the footy headlines, following three high impact incidents from the AFL’s opening weekend.

Kysaiah Pickett, Lance Franklin and Shane McAdam committed the reckless move.

Pickett’s dangerous bump was on Western Bulldogs fan favourite Bailey Smith on Saturday night at the MCG.

His bump was arguably the most dangerous, because Smith was defenceless whilst kicking the ball.

While in play, Pickett launched himself off the ground with what looked like an intent to make serious impact.

Fortunately, Smith bounced straight back and seemed unfazed, playing out the rest of the game.

In the aftermath of the game, Pickett was only given two weeks by the MRO.

Franklin was also suspended for one week, after his bump on Gold Coast’s key defender Sam Collins.

In this instance, the impact from Franklin’s bump was nowhere near as marked as Pickett’s, but the move left Collins slowly returning to his feet before continuing to play the rest of the match.

Despite commentators believing the impact was only worth a fine, Franklin received a suspension.

McAdam was sent directly to the tribunal for his bump on GWS defender Jacob Wehr and suspended for three weeks.

When McAdam made impact, Wehr stayed down for quite a while before being taken off the field for a concussion test.

Examining all three bumps from round one, McAdam’s and Pickett’s looked almost identical; both happened at high velocity.

Despite this, McAdam received a three-week suspension from the MRO.

The incidents have sparked calls for the AFL to crack down harder on careless bumps. Should there be a better system into punishing players for reckless actions during games?

Fox Sports journalist and chief football writer for Melbourne’s Herald Sun newspaper, Mark Robinson had plenty to say about the incidents on the AFL360 show, describing the moves  as “unacceptable”.

“They’re cheap shots, they’re sh*t shots actually”, Robinson said.

“Kids sitting at home, don’t do that – footy is a hard game.”

Collingwood midfielder Scott Pendlebury also called for tough new measures to deter players from dangerous bumps.

The 35-year-old was interviewed on Melbourne’s Triple M radio station and reignited the debate around whether a send-off system should be introduced by the AFL.

“We still live in the outcome, punishing the outcome which rightly or wrongly, I don’t agree with that,” he said.

“I think it should be the action that gets punished – they’re not football actions.”

According to Pendlebury, a “sin bin” system, where a player could be sent off during a match for a period of time, was worth considering.

“Watching the NRL and the stuff like that that happens, they get sin binned and I don’t mind that for our players,” he said.

“If Pickett was to get sin-binned, it’s a complete disadvantage and now you play 17 versus 18 for 10 or 15 minutes.”

The implementation of such a system would be effective not only to punish players committing these careless bumps, but making the game fair if someone is sent off the ground injured.

An example of where this “sin bin” system would have been effective is the Geelong-Richmond match in Round 15 of the 2022 season.

In an important game for both teams, the Cats won by just three points with Tom Stewart arguably being the best player with 29 disposals and a match winning mark in defence in the dying moments of the match.

But the Tigers lost star midfielder Dion Prestia to concussion in the first quarter, after receiving a forceful high bump from Stewart.

Prestia was subbed out of the game with Richmond a man down for the remainder of the game, while Stewart continued to play and make an impact on the result.

These kinds of incidents can determine the result and outcome of a match, which is why a “sin bin” system could potentially even out the contest in the future and encourage players to play by the rules.

“Those non-football actions I think we really need to treat seriously and get that out of our game,” Pendlebury told Triple M.