Brisbane Lions should place whoever wrote the #Fevola statement on indefinite leave
Generosity is called for when assessing the work of a footy club employee or PR consultant who was dragged into the offices of the Brisbane Lions on New Year’s Day, a Saturday, in off-season. But I’m afraid my compassion towards the composer of the club’s statement on the Fevola incident is mitigated by its rank awfulness and, as such, expired at the completion of the previous sentence.
The statement, in response to the arrest of star forward Brendan Fevola for his New Year’s Eve overexuberance, is both bad enough and short enough to warrant dissection line by line.
The Brisbane Lions AFC has this afternoon granted Brendan Fevola indefinite leave from the Club in order to receive professional assistance for a number of personal issues.
If the measure of a strong opening to this type of media release is the presentation of clear and credible information, this sentence works hard for its F. It screams “we are covering shit up!” from the rhetorical rooftops in two distinct ways: first, by framing its actions as an act of kindness — by granting leave to Fevola instead of suspending him — the Club immediately signals that it is spinning the issue rather than confronting it. Second, the phrase “professional assistance for a number of personal issues” is so vague and meaningless that it doubles as an insult to readers. What issues? From which kind of professional does he need assistance? Lawyer? Doctor? Speech therapist? Saying nothing is far preferable to such nothingness.
The request for leave was made by Fevola following an incident in the early hours of this morning where he was arrested and charged with public nuisance and obstructing police in Brisbane’s Fortitude Valley.
This is completely redudant because (a) the fact that Fevola made a “request” is implicit in the verb “granted” from the previous sentence (you only grant something that has been requested, right?) and (b) the repetition of the arrest details is hardly necessary. These first two sentences could have replaced with: “The Brisbane Lions have suspended Brendan Fevola indefinitely after a widely-publicized incident involving police in the early hours of yesterday morning.”
Fevola was released from police custody at around 11am and immediately sought leave from the Lions to receive professional assistance.
This sentence never needed to see the light of day: the first half is an unnecessary detail and the second repeats a meaningless point already made.
As a result, Fevola will not be at training this Monday when the team resumes its preparations for the 2011 AFL Season.
Really? Not at training? While on indefinite leave? Stop the presses.
While the Brisbane Lions AFC places the well being of all its staff as a primary focus, the Club will hold talks next week regarding what action may be required as a direct result of this morning’s incident.
This sentence does to crimes to language for which no punishment is too severe. As anyone who speaks English knows, the word “while” operates a lot like “but” so any sentence that kicks off with the word sets us up to expect information in the second half that contrasts in some ways with the first, like, for example, “While Brendan Fevola is an adult male in strict chronological terms, he is a child in many profound ways.” But here we are presented with a sentence that uses “while” for no apparent reason: the club’s concern for staff (blah blah) doesn’t appear to contrast in any way with its intention to “hold talks” as a “direct result” of the “incident”. And that’s not all: why is the comments about “staff” even remotely relevant? Are players included in this? Is Fev? Why would you choose the grandiose term “hold talks” when all that can possibly do is escalate hype and create expectations? And do we really attach the verb “place” to the overused “focus”? The sentiment could have been far better expressed by saying, “the Club will discuss the matter further next week.”
The Club resumes its non-football operations this Tuesday January 4 2011 with all staff currently on annual leave.
This is the best sentence by far, although it could have been chopped after the word Tuesday.
In summary, then, the statement could have read:
“The Brisbane Lions have suspended Brendan Fevola indefinitely after a widely-publicized incident involving police in the early hours of yesterday morning. The Club will discuss the matter further next week, after it resumes non-football operations on Tuesday.”