THE bump will not be banned.
Calls to outlaw one of Australian football's oldest traditions, led by former Port Adelaide coach Mark Williams in order to better protect players' heads, were today rejected by AFL chief executive officer Gillon McLachlan.
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"The bump is not something that I can imagine leaving the game, but we will always make sure that our players are protected in the way it is executed," McLachlan told AFL.com.au.
"The bump has been a part of our game for a hundred years, as to what is a legal bump has changed and we will continue to look at that to make sure we will continue to protect the health and well-being of our players, particularly when it involves the head.
"Through the comp committee, we will continue to make decisions to protect the head, and that is the priority."
Brain-related trauma of players, both current and retired, has emerged in recent years as one of the game's biggest challenges.
A large class action is already well advanced, and The West Australian on Wednesday revealed that chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE) had been detected in the brain of Graham ‘Polly’ Farmer, one of the inaugural inductees as a Legend in the Australian Football Hall Of Fame.
"We have modified what is acceptable in the bump to protect the head," McLachlan said.
"This strict liability, when we brought it in, there was a lot of outrage about people being rubbed out for what they thought was a fair bump.
"We take concussion very seriously. Our concussion protocols and guidelines first came in in the early 2000s, and our focus has always been about three things: prevention, diagnostics and research.
"We have been making progress in all those areas for 15 years at least. I think at times we ran ahead of the public on some of the rule changes we made, whether it's on strict liability on head contact in bumps, the sling tackle."
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McLachlan said Australian football was a contact sport at its base.
"I think that individuals, parents, others, understand it is a contact sport and that there is some inherent risk in that," McLachlan said.
"My kids all play footy and I accept and understand that, as do they. My responsibility as the CEO of the AFL is to be doing everything we can around those three things – prevention, diagnosis and research, to make sure we are in the best place, and I feel we are working diligently, albeit others will have different views around aspects of the decisions we make.
"We try to engage and talk to as many people as we can to ensure we have the best structures.
"I can look my board and the industry and the community in the eye and say we are working, and have been for some time, to make the health and welfare of the playing group a priority of ours."