OPINION

Eddie Betts and Sydney Stacks' impromptu hug is an example of why we embrace sport

Picture: AAP Image/Sam Wundke

Picture: AAP Image/Sam Wundke

SOME moments in sport stand the test of time. The Eddie Betts-Sydney Stack embrace during last Thursday night's AFL clash at Adelaide Oval could fall into this category.

In an environment which can at times feel like it's win-at-all-costs, the two opposition AFL players shared a special moment, bringing the crowd and those watching at home with them.

Betts, a 300-gamer with a highlight reel the envy of most, had just done what he does best - kicked a miraculous goal from the pocket.

What happened next is a rarity in elite sport of any stripe.

Competition was put aside, just for a few seconds, as an amazed teenager in just his 11th senior match paid tribute to a special piece of play.

Stack and Betts had smiles plastered across their faces as they hugged.

It was a sign of respect from the Richmond rookie that didn't detract from his desire to do his best for the Tigers.

The result was locked in - Betts' Adelaide was 35 points up with four minutes left on the clock - and both players lined up ahead of the next centre bounce determined to play the game out.

It was a little moment which had a big impact.

The two players were honouring the game and the sort of skill which captivates millions of us every week.

For a few seconds, Stack was just a star-struck fan.

This tremendous, feel-good moment was in stark contrast to the events at Melbourne's Marvel Stadium some 24 hours later, which emphasised the dark side of professional sport.

Hawthorn captain Ben Stratton was cited for three offences - pinching, stomping and giving the bird - against Essendon.

The defender would no doubt like his time again after leaving Bombers forward Orazio Fantasia with pinch marks on his arm and stomping on forward Shaun McKernan's foot during a stoppage.

Such dirty tactics have no place in the game. Players can niggle within reason, but Stratton's approach went too far and smacked of a player worried his opponent had his measure.

Football is an emotional game - players, coaches and supporters are not immune from its charms and its frustrations.

The magical Betts-Stack display and the Stratton trifecta were evidence of this.

What we need is a bit more of the former, and less of the latter.

Justine McCullagh-Beasy is an ACM journalist