What is the best structure for a sporting league?
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It fascinates me when I look into the physical makeup and the chemistry of different sporting leagues around the world.
And Australia is the greatest sporting country in the world on in terms of the number of supported leagues, when you consider our the number of people in the country.
The AFL is virtually a ‘FTPC’ League. A For The Players and Coaches League. It is not a NFP, Not for Profit, but it might just as well be.
At years end, the Socialistic side of Australian football ensures that the central body, the AFL, holds all the money, mostly from television rights, in trust and delegates it to the clubs as required to ensure their future.
Most other Australian Leagues are FTPC with a strong hint of NFP.
The A-League, NRL, Super Rugby, Cricket, ABL (baseball), NBL, AHL(hockey) all exist because the founding fathers and the administrators now realise that players, coaches, admin, medical and associated staff can all have a pay day on a given week…if the club or the league doesn’t collapse through attrition. Many AUstralians make a living from playing sport or being associated with sport somehow.
So every week at AFL level you will not see 10 teams, but 18. A country of our size should really only be able to support 10 teams. While the quality of the teams will be diluted, there are still eight or so teams each year with the chance to win it all.
And at least 14 teams with a chance of making the eight
If the AFL was only a 10 team competition you would have a huge rise in the ferocity of the matches, magnificent athletes at almost every position and great depth in the reserves.
The AFL would probably head towards private ownership of clubs. But fortunately for AFL fans, this has not happened.
Now the Americas and Europe hold completely different theories about the approach to sporting leagues.
The term “league” was adopted by American baseball, football, basketball and hockey, which have been played professionally for years. Some have introduced drafts and salary caps.
In Europe, on the other hand, it is largely “free for all”. There is no thought of equal competition.
The team with the most money and buying power wins. Teams like Man U and Man City, Real Madrid, Bayern Munich, Barcelona, Inter, Chelsea get to the top and stay there because of their bank balances.
Which formula do you prefer?