The recent criticism of the Geelong Football Club in the AFL for visiting Port Adelaide player Travis Boak is an example of the rampant hypocrisy prevalent in our community and business world.
Geelong has the right, as does any employer, to seek and recruit anyone it deems talented enough to help it be the most successful organisation that it can be. Travis Boak, as an employee or prospective employee also has the right, bounded by explicit rules within the AFL to discuss his future employment prospects with any organisation that may be worthy of his commitment.
Geelong was explicit about what it was doing. Boak's contract situation means that in 2013 he will either be playing with Port Adelaide or he will be playing somewhere else.
If you can, consider his position from an employee's perspective. He is talented and he has a current rival organisation wanting to speak with him about moving across to them. There is nothing wrong with talking with that organisation. In fact doing so could re-enforce the very reasons why he might choose to stay with Port Adelaide.
People are very naive if they believe that rival clubs haven't spoken with soon-to-be out of contract players during a season in the past. I'll cite Gary Ablett and Tom Scully as two examples and you "...would have to be dreaming" (a quote from the Australian move The Castle) to believe that Travis Cloke's management hasn't been speaking with other clubs throughout this season. How could a decision about where he is going to play next year occur if they haven't?
Geelong should be commended for their integrity in being open and honest about what they were doing. Yet they got criticised for it. Some people have suggested that they were arrogant and under-handed. How could they be under handed when they were open and honest about what they were doing?
'Political correctness' doesn't necessarily help integrity. Would people honestly prefer that Geelong drove to Adelaide in the cover of night, spoke with Travis Boak and then publicly denied what they did?
Seriously, think about the values that such a view is projecting... Dishonesty. Is that what we really want? I don't think so.
It is time that more people stood up to protect honest behaviour. No doubt Port Adelaide does not want to lose Travis Boak. If it is an organisation that is worthy of his commitment, then he will stay. At least Port Adelaide knows what it is up against with Geelong being open about what it has been doing. But what about other clubs who may have spoken with Boak but have not been honest about what they have been doing (for the record I don't know if any other clubs have spoken with him)? How is that good for Port Adelaide?
The challenge with honesty is that sometimes we might not like the honesty we are hearing. That doesn't mean the honesty is wrong. It means that it triggers a fear in us, in this case the fear for some people that Travis Boak will move to another club. For others the fear that is triggered is the mere thought that, "This could happen to one of the stars in my club!". Folks it's happening anyway and we should be encouraging this type of behaviour to be above ground and not below ground.
Below ground behaviour doesn't support integrity, yet it is the criticism of organisations like Geelong that drives such behaviour underground because it is considered 'politically incorrect'. I, for one support Geelong with it's actions and for it's integrity in this situation.
Gary Ryan is a long time member of the Western Bulldogs and Richmond AFL clubs.