Dec 17, 2019

AFL

The worst ideas of AFL Season 2019

21 Comments

2018 was always going to be a tough year for the AFL’s Bad Ideas department to follow, such was the avalanche of bad ideas that came spewing out of Headquarters last year.

But the AFL at least gave 2019 a real crack, with some wonderfully awful ideas that showed that once again, there’s nothing more dangerous than an AFL executive with time on their hands.

AFLX’s last roll of the dice

As we entered 2019, AFLX was already facing mounting criticism, which meant only one thing, the AFL decided to turn the volume up to eleven.

In response to complaints the format was too gimmicky, the AFL, in their infinite wisdom, decided the best response was even more gimmicks. It was an odd but not surprising approach.

The changes came think and fast, even in the days leading up to the tournament. This time there were no AFL teams, instead replaced by the Bolts, Rampage, Deadly and the Flyers. 

Added to that, the coin toss was replaced with scissors, paper, rock; a “Gatorade Gamechanger’ was brought in and the players were encouraged to dress up like NBA players before the game for their entrances to the arena.

It resulted in the players having a great time, the only problem was, no one else was and the format was shelved.

A shame it had to end but at least my grandfather got to see a Rampage Premiership before he died.

Gary Ablett decides to become a WWE Wrestler

There’s no doubt that Gary Ablett Jr is one of the greatest footballers ever but his decision to emulate WWF star Tito Santana’s flying forearm in a series of matches this season seemed strange to say the least.

Ablett went on a tear for a few weeks where it seemed he was actively trying to get suspended, but due to the AFL Tribunal’s ‘Stars Get Off’ policy, this proved very hard for him to do.

He escaped suspensions for high hits on Essendon's Dylan Shiel and North Melbourne's Sam Wright before finally winning a hard-earned rest with a hit on the Gold Coast's Anthony Miles for Ablett to get a week off.

For a man who makes everything on the footy field look easy, he made getting suspended look hard.

Everything Fremantle and Adelaide did in their Round Seven clash

The moment the AFL announced they were introducing a raft of new rules to increase scoring, every footy fan just knew scoring would be at historically low levels this season.

While we knew it then, we really felt it when watching Adelaide play Fremantle in Round Seven. A match that is seared on my memory, like a traumatic moment from childhood.

So bad was this game that at halftime the score was 12-14. The second quarter was the worst, with the Dockers being held scoreless in the second term - yet still somehow managed to have the lead at half-time.

It was the equal-fifth lowest-scoring second quarter in VFL/AFL history, and the lowest in 31 years, which is how long it felt like the quarter went for.

The Crows ended up technically winning, but there were no winners in this game.

Melbourne tries some innovative training

In a metaphor for Melbourne’s season, Christian Petracca almost drowned during a training session.

The session was being held at a pool but so bad is the Melbourne Football Club’s luck, it wouldn’t surprise you if you heard a Demons player almost drowned while jogging laps at Gosch's Paddock.

Luckily Petracca was alright, but the season’s results show that the Dees would be better off pivoting to train for football in the future rather than marine auto-asphyxiation.

Behavioural Awareness Officers

Only the AFL could turn a crackdown on crowd violence into a negative story. With fans punching on, and even worse than that, being filmed on people’s phones doing so, Marvel Stadium increased it security patrols.

This led to a few instances of fans claiming they were being targeted for loud barracking.

Most of these cases involved people claiming they were innocent, but you always wonder, it’s like when a mate tells you how they did nothing wrong to get kicked out of a nightclub; you take their story with a grain of salt.

When complaints started to be raised about the increased security presence, the AFL didn’t come out straight away and explain they were in response to crowd violence, instead they let the idea it was to enforce a ‘politically correct’ agenda on fans take root.

This own goal was further compounded when a photo was shown of security wearing ‘Behavioural Awareness Officer’ vests.

This had to be peak corporate speak. What the hell is a ‘Behavioural Awareness Officer’? What was wrong with security? We had a perfectly good word.

Behavioural Awareness Officer doesn’t even mean anything. Are they just aware of behaviour? Good or bad behaviour? Do they give you a compliment if you yell out something funny? Or pick up someone’s scarf for them?

If it’s just being aware, does that mean they do anything, or are they just aware?

It’s so stupid an idea that the fact someone came up with it, others approved it and they vest were then manufactured, explains why the world is in the mess it currently is in.

Dane Rampe climbs a post and the umpires miss it

Dane Rampe had an interesting year but the pinnacle, figuratively and literally was when he climbed a goal post in the dying moments of the Swans game against Essendon.

Amazingly, the several umpires in the immediate vicinity were oblivious to a fully-grown man climbing a goalpost and failed to call a free kick, costing Essendon the game.

The AFL’s response showed their rules are more guidelines, with Gillon McLachlan claiming the ‘context’ was important, not the black and white nature of the law.

I think the context was that it was against Essendon.

AFL Match Review Centre

Talking of bad decisions, I can only assume that the Match Review Officers get paid for each bad one they make, such was the volume of bad decisions that flowed from them this year.

There were so many even the AFL had to admit to them, something they are usually loathed to do.

It got so bad that the flawed system had to go, and what better replacement for a flawed system than another flawed system?

So we got the Match Review Centre, the AFL’s version of the NRL’s Bunker, which underwent extensive testing, that is a couple of games before it was fully implemented in the finals.

Naturally, you’d want to test an embryonic system and unproven technology in the MOST IMPORTANT GAMES OF THE YEAR.

Did it work? It worked exactly as you’d expect.

AFL considers giving players the right to challenge scores

All these problems with the score review system seemed to suggest it was something that needed to be bedded down and improved upon before tinkering with it anymore, but this is the AFL, and tinkering is their jam.

Add to that Steven Hocking, the man who never met a bad idea he didn’t like, and rather than simplifying the whole thing, we get the idea that players may be allowed to call for challenges themselves.

It sounds like another wonderful way to slow down a game that is loved for the fact it doesn’t have a lot of breaks in play. Get ready for a TV timeout to be introduced soon.

Shortening halftime

This has been textbook AFL. Announce you’re looking to shorten the twenty minute halftime break to ten, claim widespread support from ‘the industry’, don’t consult fans, then announce you’ll settle at fifteen minutes instead of ten to suggest you’ve listened, when ten minutes was an ambit claim in the first place.

Whenever the AFL says, ‘the Industry’ they mean everyone but fans, but saying ‘we consulted everyone but the fans’ sounds bad, so the say ‘the Industry.’

A fifteen-minute halftime wouldn’t be the end of the world if stadiums had enough toilets and staff working in food and drink outlets to allow fans to do all that in fifteen minutes, but they can’t. They struggle in twenty minutes.

Any footy fan knows that to go to the toilet and get food, you need to leave with about two minutes to go in the second quarter, if you’re to get back by the start of the third. Even then it’s touch-and-go.

Women have been quick to point out the toilet situation is especially bad for them, something the male dominated AFL executive didn’t think of. The AFL’s idea of diversity on their executive is having men with different names.

The AFL claims the reason for the change is because people turn off in halftime. They assume it’s because they switch on to other things, not the fact the AFL have increasingly moved good games onto pay TV and served up someone of the worst Friday and Saturday night games in living memory.

Perhaps adding extra teams and watering down the talent pool hasn’t helped either, but what would I know, I’m not part of ‘The Industry.’

Wildcard round floated again

In many ways, the AFL is like a child, they ask for something, get told no, so they wait five minutes and ask again.

So is the case with the Wildcard Round, a rather shameless ploy to get more money from advertisers and TV networks by adding pointless finals.

The idea of watering down the quality of the finals for profit is certainly on brand for the AFL and who doesn’t want to see a team that barely won more games than they lost stink up the finals?

It’s meant to be hard to qualify for finals, that’s the whole point.

Twilight Grand Final softening up continues on

Much like the Wildcard Round, the AFL’s white whale, a twilight Grand Final, is something they can’t let go of, so every year they float the idea and every year the fans overwhelmingly say ‘no thanks’.

So the AFL say ‘we have listened to the fans’, don’t change it, and then bring it up again a year later which suggests they haven’t really listened at all.

Every year they float the idea and every year it gets shot down, yet they persist, hoping they are ‘softening up’ the fans.

But it’s not working, fan sentiment towards it isn’t budging. It means the AFL is bound at some point to just go ahead with it, and say ‘the fans be damned, we’re running a business here’, despite being tax exempt due to their ‘community status’.

Bulldogs’ Thor Jumper

Synergy. You could hear the word ringing out when the marketing meeting that greenlit the Western Bulldogs’ Thor jumper was held.

The Bulldogs played at Marvel Stadium and Thor himself, in the guise of Chris Hemsworth is a Bulldogs supporter! Synergy, Synergy, Synergy!

It’s why you should never let marketing run anything. Pride in the jumper is dead, long live pride in the latest marketing tie in!

Channel Seven’s Twitter take down a picture of Tayla Harris doing her job

When Channel Seven posted a photo of Tayla Harris kicking a football, you wouldn’t expect a lot of controversy, after all she kicks footballs a lot, it’s core business for her.

But of course, if you’ve been on social media you know that women get treated so badly on those platforms it makes you lose any faith in humanity.

So naturally a bunch of sad men flooded the post with sexist comments, many with a hint of violence too, to really lift their impotent rage scores.

Channel Seven’s social media team decided the best way to respond to this was to take down the post, rather than delete the comments. It sent the message that there was something wrong with the post.

But there was nothing wrong with the post, an amazing photo by Michael Willson, of a great athlete.

What was wrong was that Seven had pulled the post, instead of flooding their feed with pictures of wonderful female athletes, after all, the people who were annoyed by the Tayla Harris photo are people I’d cross states to annoy.

The outcry led to Channel Seven reposting the photo, and credit to them for taking it on board and owning the mistake. Next we saw that photo become more famous than if it hadn’t been taken down.

As Obi-Wan once said, ‘If you strike me down, I shall become more powerful than you can possibly imagine.’

There was even a statue made of the kick, which led to more men complaining about that, saying things like ‘Cathy Freeman deserves one more’. Yeah, I remember those same guys campaign hard for statues of female athletes in the past.

AFLQ loses their mind

Watering down junior football to make it a socialist paradise where no one loses has a long tradition but the AFLQ have really amped it up.

They’ve proposed a rule that would see a team that wins by too much actually deducted points.  

The proposed rule for junior footy teams would see teams who win by too great of a margin hit with a points deduction depending on the margin of victory.

The proposal is called the ‘Reward E-Point system’ and teams who win by 90-119 points will incur a one E-Point deduction, by 120-149 points is two E-Points and anything over 150 points loses three E-Points.

It’s a terrible idea. They’re treating these children like children.

Losing is part of life, you’re not meant to like it. Learning to hate losing is what motivates you to get better. Trust me, I’ve done a lot of losing over my life and I’m confident that one day I’ll get better.

Serving rabbit terrine at the football

You should never serve rabbit terrine at the football and that’s especially true if people are getting sick from it.

On Anzac Day, at the Essendon's president's lunch in the MCG's Olympic Room, 37 guests and one staff member fell sick with seven people taken to hospital after eating it.

But it later came to light that it wasn't the rabbit's terrine but "most likely" the relish.

Relish, terrine; you eat that at the footy and you’re rolling the dice. Stick to overpriced hot chips and awful tasting mid-strength beer.

Using a cab for an injury 

Perhaps nothing sums up the state of the Essendon Football Club in the current century than the fat they sent an injured player to hospital in a taxi.

Matt Guelfi was driven to hospital during a loss to West Coast after being pushed in the fence by Jeremy McGovern.

While every other club uses an ambulance, the Bombers thought, no, a taxi is far better.

All I can say is it’s lucky it wasn’t Michael Hurley that McGovern pushed into the fence.

Daisy decides to have a drink

Dale Thomas got himself in all sorts of trouble for getting drunk at a charity function just two days out from a game.

He was dumped to the VFL and roundly criticised by past players.

The important lesson for all footballers? Don’t do charity events.

Titus’ new book Please, Gamble Irresponsibly: The rise, fall and rise of sports gambling in Australia is now out. You can order it now.

COMMENTS

Kelvin Mondy

Dec 17, 2019

Are the AFLQ also Melbourne board members?
Teach the kids to tank and teach them early.

Greta's Mother

Dec 17, 2019

The AFL actually sums up the current state of this planet. More stupidity I have never seen......

peter lake

Dec 18, 2019

Love your work Titus. So looking forward to the new season. Many reasons but one of those is reading your weekly rants. Love it all, particularly when knifing those grossly overpaid AFL fat cats and there ridiculous ideas.

Where’s Wylie

Dec 18, 2019

Geelong going into a prelim without a key forward might also be a contender (which the Cats clearly weren’t...).

BLOKE FROM THE OUTER

Dec 18, 2019

I was at a game this year where two nice middle age people were sitting two rows in front of me, pretty much minding their own business and hoping to enjoy the footy. About 5 minutes before the game started a family of cave trolls slobbered into the row between me and this couple. Mama and papa troll were, of course, obese but that only meant that could eat more junk food. Meanwhile their two trollettes stuffed garbage down their gobs, and moaned and griped about anything and everything.

About 15 minutes into the 1st quarter junior trollette is bored and decides kicking the seat in front of her is a good idea. Too bad the nice lady happens to be sitting in that seat.

Nice lady asks mama troll if she can perhaps get junior trollette to stop. Mama troll takes mortal offence to this and, rather than slap junior around the chops (believe me she needed a slapping), proceeds to tell nice lady to shut up and watch the footy. Junior trollette thinks this is permission to kick said seat harder. Nice lady immediately turns around and tells junior trollette to quit it. Junior trollete, like all of her ill bred ilk, is a fragile as glass and instantly breaks into uncontrolled wailing. Mama troll starts abusing nice lady and the two men start having a go at one another. Crowd members intervene and eventually the two groups settle down to watch the footy.

At quarter time mama troll wanders off, probably to get more fat and sugar to gorge upon, but being rat cunning she had decided to complain to our friendly 'Behavioural Awareness Officers'. They immediately pounce on nice couple and ask them to move or they will be escorted from the premises.

It was only when the rest of the crowd intervened that the officers realised that they had been conned but had backed themselves into a corner. Nice couple moved anyway (as did the rest of us).

Maybe the trolls do this every time so they can have plenty of room for their general awfulness.

Good times!

Leeann Klinberg-Kirby

Dec 18, 2019

Great stuff Titus,

My Christmas wish to you is that Melbourne win a Premiership before 2030! No, I am a Swanny not a demon supporter. But two reasons, 1. as reward for the good humour and excellence of your weekly pieces, 2. to see how it affects your writing when Melbourne are Premiers! (p.s. of course, only if Melbourne are not playing Sydney).

Merry Christmas Titus, thank-you for a year of wonderful insight!

Gazza

Dec 18, 2019

G'day Titus,

Can't wait to read your insightful, perceptive dissection of the great game of AFL for the coming season. Regarding that simian Dane Rampe - I believe it was you who said every team should have a specialist goal post climber ? Now THAT would liven things up, but having said that, might also adversely affect the number of goals scored per game - hmmmm, back to the drawing board.

Ben

Dec 18, 2019

Wildcard round would be fine if they shortened the season, like the AFLPA float every year

Tony B

Dec 18, 2019

Keep it up Titus, I might even buy your book.

Woke Princess

Dec 18, 2019

Shouldn't we do away with finals all together and just give everyone a trophy for participating. I bet that's what we're being softened up for!

30carat

Dec 18, 2019

Titus, I wish you were a permanent host on the Front Bar. Your comments are invariably amusing and often brilliantly satirical.

mdso

Dec 18, 2019

Now that would really be something, if every team had a player who could climb up the goal post and kick a goal. That should be worth more points. That could be a super goal. The innovation of the AFL is breath taking.

Andrew Deakin

Dec 18, 2019

‘ ... being tax exempt due to their ‘community status’. Are you sure about that? What, then, is the 15 per cent ‘booking fee’ I incur every time I buy AFL game seats on-line?

Greg

Dec 18, 2019

Love your work Titus. Have a great Xmas and look forward to your thoughts next year👍

Grammar police

Dec 18, 2019

"Too great a margin", not "too great of a margin". And I quite liked the Dogs' Marvel jumper. So did Chris Hemsworth :)

Borisimo

Dec 18, 2019

Excellent.
That comment 'the AFL's idea of diversity on their executive is to have men with different names'
One of so many inciteful clever jibes.

Mr B

Dec 18, 2019

Loving your work as always Titus. I've been really pleased about the return of the regular podcasts as well. (All two of them.) I missed them a lot during the hiatus.

Ange

Dec 18, 2019

Love your work Titus, it never fails to make me laugh. You sum up the general mood of footy fans perfectly.

Troy Hammersmith

Dec 18, 2019

You can also add onto this list that ongoing time wasting exercise of holding AFL matches in China based on the misguided belief that it is somehow going to plant the seeds of increasing fan patronage from the Chinese - LOL - I've never heard such bollocks in all my life.

Jayvardhan Singh

Dec 20, 2019

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Bruno

Mar 08, 2020

The AFL seem to copy other sports dumb ideas, probably when they run out of original ones.
The womens AFL seemed a bit rushed after the womens rugby 7's success.
I've no doubt it will be a great product in a few year's, but unfairly to other womens competitions, is getting far too much television coverage, for a sport in its embryonic stage.
The fact that the AFL can pay for it doesn't mean that you don't damage the concept by the "too much too soon" approach, not the playing of the games by women but the near prime time televising of it.

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