Flying High, Starring Ben Cousins – Solo!

Well, the Cousins saga is turning into a bit of a comedy, isn’t it? Cuz seems to be treating it all as a joke, anyway. If today’s media reports are accurate, in the midst of heartfelt public messages of support from family, friends, his coach and the AFL, the lad embarked on a 3 day bender – not quite the response the Eagles would have been looking for in suspending him.

Maybe it’s time to stop treating him with kid gloves. Why the hell is the AFL offering financial support to fly him to a renowned rehab centre in Arizona in a privately chartered jet? Apparently he will not “under any circumstances” fly out in a regular passenger plane – presumably, the glare of the public spotlight is a little harsh for the boy. Fine, if that’s his choice. But why should someone else foot the bill?

And why are the Eagles keeping him on full pay? He is not incapacitated as the result of an accident, injury or illness (other than that he has brought upon himself). His addiction – if that is what it is – is a result of a chain of choices HE has made, for which he should have to take full responsibility.

As anyone who has faced up to addiction issues understands, a fundamental part of the recovery process is taking ownership of the results, direct and indirect, of actions committed under the influence of the drug of choice. Ben will be learning what, sitting back in a private jet gratis, bound for a stint in a hip rehab program in the States while on full pay? That he is special? Dangerous notion for an addict!

AFL footballers are paid as professional elite sportspersons – the stars, like Cousins, are rewarded with millions in contract and sponsorship deals. All fair enough, too. But professionals are paid to be professional, and with the new football season looming, ignoring multiple previous warnings and turning up for training stoned – or not at all – is a breach of professional obligation. In suspending Cousins, the Eagles recognised this. They now need to recognise that going on a 3 day bender is a highly unprofessional response from Cousins – and to suspend his pay accordingly.

If ever there was a time for tough love, this is it. Or is that a forgotten concept in today’s world of stupid baby boomer parents (roll over, Dr Spock) and their spoilt brats?

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