Photo: Michael Willson/AFL Media (Getty Images)

Australian rules football is dealing with quite the kerfuffle this week after a network gave in to the creeps who left nasty comments on a photo of Carlton footballer Tayla Harris as she kicked a goal in Sunday’s match against the Western Bulldogs.

Here’s a sampling of what those comments looked like. For context, Hannah Mouncey is an Australian handball player who is trans:

Instead of getting rid of the sexist remarks, Channel Seven AFL chose to simply delete the photo of Harris in hopes that all the trolls would go away.

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This was the coward’s way out. As Kasey Symons argued in the Guardian, there was nothing wrong with the photo. It was an athlete performing an athletic action, and an impressive one at that. The problem was the people leaving vile comments about her crotch, and they could’ve easily been banned or had their words deleted. Removing the photo punished the subject of the abuse, without deterring those who dealt it out.

In response to Channel Seven, many people defended Harris and shared the photo, including Harris herself:

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“That photo is inspirational; it shows the majesty of sport encapsulated in a single, brilliant frame,” former AFLer Brandon Jack wrote in support of Harris in the Sydney Morning Herald.

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A few hours later, Channel Seven reposted the photo with an apology to Harris, and a vow to be more diligent in removing sexist comments:

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Harris gave her thoughts on the comments in an interview:

“The comments I saw were sexual abuse, if you can call it that, because it was repulsive and it made me uncomfortable,” Harris told RSN radio. “That is what I would consider sexual abuse on social media.”

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H/t to Michael