Nov 19, 2018
The Worst Ideas Of AFL Season 2018
Part of the fun of following the AFL is the constant stream of bad ideas and their unintended consequences.
Yes, the AFL and its clubs are a terrific case study in the Dunning-Kruger effect.
Most fans think they could run the competition better than those who currently do and looking at this list; they’re probably right.
This year has arguably been the best ever for bad ideas and a big shout out to Steven Hocking who belted out more bad ideas in a single year than any other Football Operations Manager in history.
Can’t wait to see what he’ll do in 2019!
Changing the Club Songs
Early in the year, the AFL announced it was re-recording the club theme songs to improve the sound quality.
This meant many of the songs that were recorded in 1972 by The Fable Singers were redone, in the process losing a lot of their character.
It was a strange move given not a single fan has ever celebrated a victory and thought ‘gee the sound quality of this is terrible’, given usually some drunk guy with an out of pitch voice is belting it out right next to you.
The AFL were quick to point out some of the clubs had requested the rerecordings, but that didn’t stop a lot of the clubs reading the reaction of fans and vowing to not use the new versions.
Richmond even ‘fixed’ their lyrics, changing the line to “risking head and shin”, rather than “head and skin”.
This was due to Kevin Bartlett constantly complaining about it and no one else.
As a result, the Tigers who always had bragging rights for the best song in the competition, now have a watered-down version.
It all summed up the AFL industry perfectly, taking something that people loved and making unnecessary changes that no fans wanted just because some old footballers whinge about it.
Let it never be said that Steven Hocking isn’t a champion of equality. Not satisfied with just tinkering with the men’s game for no reason, the AFLW were in his sights early.
Showing the AFL’s habit of overreacting is gender-blind, Hocking fired off a memo to the AFLW clubs telling them he wanted improvements on the field after what he perceived as ugly games early on and worse still, low ratings.
The memo basically told the coaches how to coach.
It laid out where players should be started at centre bounces and a whole lot of other directives to reduce the age-old enemy ‘congestion’.
It was mansplaining footy in memo form.
The memo was a terrible idea, but it wouldn’t even be the worst the AFLW would have thrust on it this year.
Night games at IKON Park
Once known as Princes Park, the now horribly named ‘IKON Park’ had a few night games held at it across the AFLW and JLT pre-season.
This resulted in those uppity AFLW players complaining about the lack of lighting.
Typical I suppose. Us blokes finally let them play footy, and now they want to be able to see while doing it. Talk about entitlement.
The AFLW was quick to respond with AFLW CEO Nicole Livingstone saying there just wasn’t enough budget to put in better lights. This sort of made you wonder why selected it as a venue for night games, but logic is a mythical creature in AFL land.
Cue the arrival of the men’s preseason games, and suddenly the budget was found for some more lighting.
When questioned about the double standard, the AFL pointed out that there are more players on the field in a men’s game, so therefore they needed more lights.
Now, I’m no scientist, but I don’t think that’s how light works.
I guess at AFL House that whenever someone new enters a meeting, they have to turn another light on.
Adelaide’s Preseason Camp
Entering this year, the Crows were coming off a season in which they almost made it to a Grand Final.
Hopes were high, then came the preseason camp run by Collective Mind in which the players endured the sort of torture usually reserved for refugees seeking asylum in Australia.
The resulting angst, division and media speculation saw the Crows season marred by injury, rumours and players wanting out.
Apparently, the players were put through all sorts of ‘mental strength training’, which seemed to result in them all having a collective breakdown.
It also seemed to take time away from training for football, which it turns out is fairly crucial for a football side.
Adelaide Crows hold a media conference on a Saturday
If having Collective Mind run your preseason camp wasn’t bad enough, the Crows handling of it was arguably as bad.
After denying anything was wrong with the camp to media and fans, the Crows buckled under the pressure of facts and conducted a weirdly timed (Saturday afternoon with footy about to start) and bizarre media conference to concede the camp was a massive failure
This was another terrible idea.
Adelaide’s head of football Brett Burton and coach Don Pyke conceded things had gone poorly but were pretty light on details and seemed not too keen to accept much of that annoying responsibility.
Well, not in the sense that it came with any actual consequences. People are quite happy to say ‘I take full responsibility’ if they know nothing will happen to them.
Burton even tried to defend the fact Collective Mind had no relevant credentials by stating:
“These guys are not psychologists; they don’t profess to be psychologists. They’re mental skills coaches.”
Burton seemed to miss the fact that his statement wasn’t a defence but the point everyone critical of the club was making.
We already knew they didn’t have any credentials because ‘mental skill coaches’ isn’t a real thing.
Collective Mind media conference
Learning nothing from the Crows shambolic response, Collective Mind decided to also hold a media conference but waited until after the end of the regular season to do so.
This meant it just kept the issue going long past the point anyone cared anymore. To think they probably paid some PR agency to provide them with this terrible advice.
The media release announcing the Collective Mind conference claimed it would ‘clear the air’, but you’d be surprised to learn that it didn’t.
In a rambling, corporate speak filled performance, the collective minds at Collective Mind said the camp had been a complete success, and they had had no negative feedback and that business was now going great, thank you very much.
It meant that either the Crows were lying, or Collective Mind were or (probably the clubhouse favourite) both were.
The whole media conference was a mess and made you realise that if the Crows hierarchy fell for these guys, then changes need to be made.
Conferences in AFLW
The AFL like to say that they are deliberate trying to make the AFLW ‘different’ from the AFL, like this is a something people want.
Listening to the AFLW players, they seem to be more interested in just playing footy and are less interested in being used as some test bed for wacky ideas.
So, it was no surprise but also immensely disappointing when the AFL announced the AFLW would move to a conference system with the ten teams divided into two groups of five.
It’s a spectacularly unnecessary way to overcomplicate a ten-team league and is being driven by the fact the AFL don’t really want to run a longer season because it doesn’t pay for itself.
This makes some sense; the AFL can’t run something that just loses money hand over fist with no foreseeable date when it will become profitable, cough, Giants, cough, Suns.
At the moment the Conferences are cleverly named Conference A and B, but I look forward to the AFL renaming them the Wayne Carey Conference and the Nick Stevens Conference soon.
Carlton on Friday nights
We can dust this off from a few years ago, with the AFL once again plastering the woeful Blues across Friday nights, effectively making Friday nights an AFL free night.
At the same time, games like the Showdown were buried in terrible timeslots.
Yet, we should be thankful we got to see St Kilda trouncing the Blues 118 to 52, which my eyes have almost recovered from.
As anger grew, the AFL claimed it was due to difficulties with short breaks but it since this is the second time in recent seasons this has happened, it seemed more like the AFL still think that Carlton is a relevant club and not the new Fitzroy.
Obviously some good came out of it, next season’s draw has Carlton buried so deep that no one will see them, they might as well be being broadcast on Mark Latham’s Facebook Page.
The Alberti-Gordon feud
Since winning the Premiership, the Bulldogs have seemed to be on a mission to reclaim their down and out, hipster brand.
Not content with being a mess again on the field, they’ve upped their off the field chaos, banning Susan Alberti from entering their AFLW games through a certain gate, despite the games being free entry anyway.
It was a completely unnecessary decision that spoke of warring personalities rather than the brief moment when they were a unified club.
The AFL then responded by saying the AFLW CEO Nicole Livingstone or an AFL representative would meet Ms Alberti at every game to escort her in which seems an excellent use of resources for a league the AFL doesn’t really like funding.
The 18-meter goal square
No idea captured so vividly the AFL’s ‘all new ideas are great ideas’ ethos than the proposed 18-meter goal square.
At the exact time, the AFL was trialling it at a VFL game, the game in its current forms was putting on one of its best rounds ever.
Such was the outrage over the unnecessary tinkering that the AFL Commission rejected it, finally listening to the fans.
Instead, they got rid of the need to kick the ball to yourself to play on after behinds and moved the man on the mark back five meters.
Hey, wait! That’s effectively the same thing without changing the lines! They didn’t listen to us at all!
Appointing one AFL match review officer
Inconsistency in the AFL judiciary is not just expected; it’s a proud tradition that goes back over a century.
In the past, it could always be blamed on different people interpreting decisions as part of a committee, but when you just have one person deciding, the inconsistency seemed somewhat strange.
Michael Christian spent the year contradicting himself so often that he now has a bright future in politics ahead.
What he did provide is a single person to blame for everything, which did save time.
Michael Slater joins Channel Seven cricket commentary team
Such a terrible idea that even though it has nothing to do with footy, it still makes the list.
The only microphone Slater should be allowed near is one to say, ‘price check register four please.’
The AFL often wonders aloud to the media why the fans are so anti-rule changes, but you just have to look at their track record to understand why fans groan every time the hear about them.
This year it was the protected zone, once again a well-meaning rule that was called inconsistently and had a disproportionate penalty for the crime.
As a result, teams were gifted goals now and then for seeming minor transgressions, that often went uncalled dozens of other times in the same game.
It got so farcical that it seemed the word went out late in the season to just completely ignore it.
I wonder which one of next year’s changes will get that treatment?
Scheduling St Kilda v North Melbourne on Good Friday
I now know how the AFL got the churches across the line on having footy on Good Friday, they told them these two would be playing.
Watching this made going to church seem like a trip to Ibiza.
Seriously, sitting through this made me realise how Jesus must have felt on Good Friday. I just wanted to crawl into a cave and have someone roll a rock in front of it.
I wouldn’t have come out after three days either.
North Melbourne won this game, but really, there were no winners.
This wasn’t the worst new rule put forward by the AFL this year, but that doesn’t make it a good one.
The consensus seems to be that it won’t do much, something we wish the AFL Competition Committee would do.
Carlton’s grey away jumper
You didn’t need to be a fashion expert to realise Carlton’s grey away jumper was horrible, you just needed eyes.
In many ways, a grey, lifeless design does sum up how Carlton fans feel about their team these days, but they don’t want to be reminded of that every time they see a bit of merch.
The Blues quickly moved to change the design but Nike at first said no, meaning that the Blues looked like they were going to add a loss to their apparel supplier to their rather impressively long list of defeats this year.
Luckily, a compromise has been reached, and the Blues seem likely to wear something less reflective of their current state next season.
St Kilda in China
How can you spot a bad idea? When even the Gold Coast Suns reject it.
The Suns decided that the trip to China in the middle of the year might be great for Port Adelaide’s finances, but wasn’t so good for winning games and exhaustion.
St Kilda, however, have never met a bad idea they didn’t like (hello Simon Lethlean and Gubby Allan), so they’re off to China for the next few years.
Like working as a charity mugger, it will make them some money but that doesn’t make it a good idea.
Best of three Grand Final
This is a terrible idea but comes from a place of frustration. The non-Victorian clubs were rightly furious when the AFL announced it was signing away the Grand Final to the MCG until 2057 with not a lot of consultation.
The idea it’s not a huge advantage to the Melbourne based clubs and the MCG tenants especially is fanciful.
It doesn’t make winning the premiership impossible, but it sure does make it harder.
Imagine how the Victorian clubs would react if the Grand Final were held at Optus Stadium for a few years?
Rotating the venue, like the Super Bowl, is the fairest way of manging this but the AFL signed this option away until 2057.
The best of three proposal is, therefore, an attempted workaround and while not a good idea in itself, it highlights that the AFL is still a Victoria-centric competition when it comes to the big decisions.
Extending Ticketek contract
When the MCC announced in July that they would be extending their contract with Ticketek they said:
The renewed partnership will ensure patrons continue to receive world’s best practice in ticketing technology and service when accessing tickets for events at the MCG through Australia’s most advanced multi-channel event ticketing and digital marketing company.
This statement was false the moment it was published and has only become more untethered from reality as events transpired.
Calling Ticketek ‘Australia’s most advanced multi-channel event ticketing and digital marketing company’, is the biggest lie I’ve heard since I once told a date that I was gainfully employed, liked meeting people and enjoyed leaving the house.
When Ticketek again failed to anticipate people might want AFL finals tickets, signing this contract became arguably the worst idea of the year.
New AFLX Format
AFLX itself was probably the worst idea the AFL has had since the Gold Coast Suns, and now it looks like it is to be changed.
Has the AFL no respect for tradition?
The new idea is to choose four stars of the game and have them select teams like in the schoolyard, except in this case everyone would be hoping not to get picked.
These four teams would all play each other in one single night in a glorious display of pointlessness.
Here’s an idea, don’t have AFLX.
Brian Lake’s visit to Japan
I can remember the moment someone told me Brian Lake had been arrested in Japan.
“Dammitt!” I exclaimed.
“Is he a friend of yours?” the person asked.