Swimming Australia has released a statement responding to the criticism by National Teamers like Eamon Sullivan over a picture posted two weeks ago of Nick D’Arcy and Kenrick Monk in an American gun shop posing with high-powered weaponry.
The response is that it was the specific pose, rather than the visit to the gunshop itself, that perturbed officials at Swimming Australia and the Australian Olympic Committee. They also acknowledged that they sent their own National Team to a gun range in 2007. Further, Swimming Australia tried to again reframe the issue in the context of “responsibility with social media”.
This has been a much more severe reaction than those handed out over other poses by Australians in the past, including this pose by Sullivan and then-girlfriend Stephanie Rice in their underwear that probably offended many more parents of impressionable young swim fans (think of the children!).
Swimming Australia has decided to impose no further punishment beyond the social media ban and early-exit from the Olympic festivities placed upon them by the Australian Olympic Committee.
Here’s one perspective on the issue, and why the reaction is so great from the Australians. As we discussed earlier, gun controls in Australia are much tighter than in the United States. So imagine if a top-level American swimmer posted pictures in a “coffeeshop” (where marijuana is sold) Amsterdam where it was perfectly legal. That’s the best analogy that I can come up with to explain the reaction.
The full statement by Swimming Australia is below.
Swimmers Nick D’Arcy and Kenrick Monk have been reminded of their responsibilities as members of the Australian Swim Team, following a meeting with Swimming Australia President David Urquhart and CEO Kevin Neil in Brisbane today.
Swimming Australia deemed their photos posted on Facebook and Twitter as inappropriate due to the manner in which the athletes were posing, and the ability for the photos to cause negative publicity and unnecessary scrutiny on the athletes involved and the sport.
Swimming Australia acknowledges that members of the Australian Swim Team previously visited a rifle range in Canberra as a team activity in 2007. However, this matter involving Nick and Kenrick was not about visiting a gun shop, more the manner in which they posed in the photos, as well as past indiscretions which bring their actions into question.
“They showed poor judgement in posting what we saw as inappropriate photos, in which they appear to be skylarking with guns while in the US last week,” said Neil.
“While what the boys did was not illegal, posting the photos on social networks encourages public debate, and that debate can be seen to have a negative impact on the image of the sport and their own image.”
The athletes removed the photos as soon as they were asked to by Swimming Australia officials, and have apologised publicly to anyone they may have offended as a result of positing the images.
“This is a valuable lesson to the entire swimming community that social media is a public forum, which can bring with it public scrutiny, and all members need to be reminded of that, and the consequences that come with it,” said Neil.
Swimming Australia will be taking no further action on the matter and making no further comment at this time.