Ok, I’ll admit it. He is a fine kick at goal. He is an incredible kick at goal. At 196cm and just over 100kg, the man has kicked 42 goals in just 8 games. Lance “Buddy” Franklin is the man I am referring to. However, I will not call him Buddy in this post or any other – not due to jealousy of this prodigy being a Hawk, but simply out of protest.
Where the nickname ‘Buddy’ originated, I have no clue. I have a strong sense it is of inter-club birth, though. This is a name his team mates and possibly friends outside of football christened him with. There would be a deeper meaning to the name but I am not here to talk about that. What I will talk about is the frequent, almost gratuitous over-use of the nickname. Not by you and me. Not by fans. Not by teammates. But by the media. Every newspaper that has any interest in AFL will repeatedly refer to him simply as Buddy. Radio personalities, TV hosts and commentators all refer to this goalkicking phenomenon as “Buddy”.
Call me sour but I have always been quite irked by the use of nicknames, and even first names by commentators calling the play. It has happened in a number of circumstances in different sports. From cricket in which commentators – namely Ian Chappell – referred to South African super-fielder Jonty Rhodes as just “Jonty”. Also, in rugby league, all that was heard north of the Murray for the better part of 10 years was “Andrew” or even worse, “Joey”, to decribe Andrew Johns. During State of Origin games, Grand Finals, Test Matches…Joey, Joey, Joey! It grew to the stage where people just about forgot the man’s surname. And I am afraid the same is happening to Lance Franklin. Who? Lance?
I could use any number of references but I will refer to the game against Collingwood in round 7. At one stage late in the 63 point thumping, Franklin broke into a grin. I’m not entirely sure what enticed this random smile, but boy were the Channel 7 commentary team happy about it!
“Isn’t it great to see Buddy and this whole Hawthorn team smiling!” Those were their words. Sickening. Absolutely sickening. Now watching this game and happening to support a team other than Hawthorn, I believe I stand for most when I say I was embarrassed by the complete bias in this statement. Not just towards our friend Lance, but also the Hawthorn team. In saying that they were happy to see them smiling, it sounded as if they had just wandered into the MCG after 40 long days in the desert. As if the Hawthorn reference was bad enough, the mention of “Buddy” made me grind my teeth to the point where they were just about falling out.
Now I may very well be a raging traditionalist sour-puss. But I believe that if Gary Ablett can be called “Ablett”, and Nathan Buckley “Buckley” and Wayne Schimmelbusch “Schimmelbusch”, then Lance Franklin must be called Lance Franklin.
Yes, call him a legend. Call him a phenomenon. A prodigy. Call him all of those things. But please, please stop calling him “Buddy”!