What AFL can learn from other sports
Lance Franklin of Hawthorn marks over Swans' Ted Richards. Slattery Images.
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As we sit here eight rounds into the AFL season, we get the news that AFL CEO Andrew Demetriou will be jetting off to the London Olympics to learn from the world’s greatest sporting event.
Which leads to the thought, what else can the domestic powerhouse that is AFL learn from codes around the country and the world?
With the introduction of goal-line technology, the AFL would be wise to invest in the same technology as the NFL, so that the umpire can be heard over the loud speakers at the game.
As shown in the NFL, it works great with the crowd constantly engaged and interacting with in the game.
It could also be expanded so as to be used to reduce confusion in the crowd with general play decisions, as after all, how often are you left wondering which way is his arm pointing or what way is the many in yellow, green or red pointing when your 20 rows back at the ‘G?
There is nothing more frustrating than shelling out your hard earned dollars to go to the game and halfway through a tight last quarter you and 80,000 other spectators are left completely bewildered as to what on earth is happening, whilst the umpires are having a private conversation in the goal square.
English Premier League
With many a club facing financial battles, why not relax the sponsorship rules and allow the jersey to be emblazoned in the sponsors logo as in the EPL?
With Newcastle United earning €20 million (25.96 million AUD) over two years in a kit sponsorship deal with Virgin Money, there is clearly potential even in the smaller Australian market.
People would argue this would take away from the clubs’ culture and history. As such a move would enrage many a fan, but there is an alternative.
Clash jerseys such as Carlton’s horrid light blue ensemble and cash strapped clubs such as Melbourne could be completely sold to the highest bidder. The clash jersey could then become less of an eye sore and become a genuine asset.
With Collingwood receiving $14 million over seven years from CGU for a small logo on the front of their jersey, how much could a team make if they sold their whole top?
There are two aspects of NRL that are better than AFL; the NRL has more than half of its teams outside the one capital and a team in a little place called New Zealand.
Also, the other spectacle AFL lacks is representative football. Whether it is in some form of international football or State of Origin, the AFL must have it!
With the fans and players wanting some form of representative footy, it is a must. The only problem is when, what and where? Honestly, how could Demetriou turn down another attempt to outdo the NRL?
Whilst most Australians can’t stand the over the top theatrics in the USA, it’s balanced with a plethora of awards to reward its most deserving players.
For the uninitiated, these awards include: sixth man of the year (yes, that’s right, an award for the best bench player), MVP, rookie of the year, defensive player of the year, most improved player, three All-NBA teams (equivalent of All-Australian), and two All-NBA defensive teams.
The AFL has the Brownlow Medal (the midfielders’ award) and the Coleman for leading goal scorer, but nothing for the defensive player of the year.
Think of Dustin Fletcher, Darren Glass, Matthew Scarlet etc, their Brownlow votes tallies pale in comparison to their midfield colleagues, yet they work just as hard for far less recognition.
This would allow for a player to be truly rewarded and marked in the history books for his career and contribution to the game.
The same concept also gives merit to an All-Australian second team, which would replace the initial squad of 40 that is named and just select two All-Australian teams.
As we look back through recent years, many a superstar has missed out on selection and been forgotten in a year when they performed at the highest level.
The introduction of a second All-Australian would also eradicate the urge the selectors feel to pick midfielders in any position but the midfield, therefore giving justified praise to the true flankers and pockets in the game.
Whilst the game is in great shape with the tightest premiership race in years, a record breaking broadcast deal, and the two new expansion teams, nothing is perfect.
And if it enhances the spectacle that is Aussie Rules, the AFL should look to other codes for ideas.