Contact mania needs to be wound down
It has now been one week since Lindsay Thomas had a run in with Gary Rohan which caused a massive kerfuffle in the AFL world.
The sliding debate is one that challenges the heart and soul of the game.
AFL Legend Leigh Matthews was the man this week who spoke out, calling for a rule change in which possession can only be on your feet. Matthews believed that this would have no effect on the game and may even reduce stoppages.
While Matthews’ idea is worth discussion, I believe it should not become a rule in our game.
For starters our game is 360 degrees and sliding in is an inevitable part of trying to win the ball and has been since 1858.
Also can you imagine 20 players on their feet trying to pick up a ball off the ground? It would not only create more congestion but it would also look terribly ugly.
This however, it not the crux of the article rather just an example of what I am concerned is becoming a worrying trend in the AFL.
I have and I will continue to applaud the AFL for their continued efforts to rid the game of unethical dangerous play.
However, there comes a point where you just cannot police every piece of contact that may eventuate in an injury.
Our game is a contact sport and until we make it a non contact sport (God forbid), there is a risk of injury from incidental contests.
As Greg Baum said in The Age during the week, they should have pinged Mitch Clark for rough conduct against the Bulldogs for his leap in the air.
The Match Review Panel is treading a fine line between witchunt (Arthur Miller’s The Crucible style) and vigilance.
The MRP is trying to put out every spot fire that comes up on the field but it looks more like they are trying to find culpability in everything and anything.
How long is it before you can be pinged for kneeing someone in a marking contest who gets injured? It may sound silly but that is possibly the next step to “protect” the players.
In the end, it essentially confuses the players who cannot determine how to attack the ball properly under fear of a McCarthy like interrogation at the tribunal.
Accidents happen and we should all remember that and (pardon the pun) we sometimes have to just roll with the punches.
The games administrators have reached a point where any changes in the rules to protect players are starting to slowly build the game into a non contact sport.
It is time we settled and let the game be as the AFL and the Tribunal have done enough to make the game as safe as possible.