Sep 13, 2020
We need to put the AFL ideas factory in lockdown
At the moment, the city of Melbourne is in lockdown to protect it against COVID, and while we can all debate its worthiness, or more alluringly, whose fault it is, it’s there.
But while COVID is a recent phenomenon, and hopefully will be gone in the next 12 to 18 months, another danger to our way of life has been around for longer and looks to be with us forever.
AFL House’s never-ending stream of terrible ideas.
This ‘ideas factory’ is what needs to be placed in lockdown, and a lockdown so harsh it makes the Victorian government’s look like a fun jaunt.
The AFL has always loved a bad idea, the less liked by footy fans the better.
In recent years, under CEO Gillon McLachlan and Bad Ideas Inventor in Chief Steve Hocking, we have hit peak bad ideas.
Here are just a few, some that happened, some that didn’t:
· 17-5 fixture
· Shot clock
· Variable ticketing
· Giving players the right to challenge scores
· Wildcard round
· Changing the club songs
· Conferences in AFLW
· 18-meter goal square
The problem when you have this tsunami of terrible ideas pouring out of headquarters is quite a few make it through to being implemented.
There was, of course, the highest-profile, AFLX, a waste of money that now seems even worse given the games parlous financial state in 2020.
It wasn’t a bad idea in hindsight, it was a bad idea from the moment someone floated it in some awful strategy session.
Imagine if all that money had gone into grassroots footy or a future fund.
Then there was the package of rules to improve scoring, which included the six-six-six rule.
This delivered us the lowest-scoring season in about 50 years. Despite a set of rules doing the polar opposite of what they intended to do, the AFL announced they were a success, saying they improved the ‘look of the game’.
That’s like trying to lose weight, putting weight on and declaring you look better and it was always the plan.
Ask most footy fans, and they’d hardly say the game looks better now.
The problem with these bad ideas is they always seem to find a way to fruition, despite hanging around often for years beforehand, deeply unpopular with fans, they suddenly are enacted.
Take this year’s twilight Grand Final. I know 2020 is a unique season, and the Gabba is hot during the day at that time of year, and that would all be fine if the AFL hadn’t been campaigning hard for this for years.
It feels all too opportunistic. Using a crisis to ram through an unpopular change that the vast majority of footy fans have been against for years.
It could be a one-off, but why would you trust the AFL? They love money more than having a family-friendly time slot.
This is not to say I’m against change, the move to a national competition is the best idea ever. It’s just most of the ideas these days are just mindless tinkering. They are just gimmicks in the absence of strategy.
It’s why I felt rising panic when there was news the AFL was considering a 28-game season with shorter quarters in 2020.
What fresh hell is this?
Now I know the AFL will argue these are just discussions, but their track record on this stuff is not good.
The idea has two things the AFL loves, a chance to make more money and of no interest to footy fans.
The problem I have is I just don’t trust them, enough of these bad ideas come true that you have to take all of them, no matter how embryonic or ludicrous, seriously.
I wish I could hear these ideas and think ‘the AFL wouldn’t be that silly’ but that’s just not the world we live in.
We need the AFL’s ideas factory to stop, they can’t be trusted. We need them to be locked down.
My new book Cheat: The Not-so-subtle Art of Conning Your Way to Sporting Glory is now available for pre-order.
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