The exciting and unpredictable 2012 AFL season
Darren Jolly of Collingwood celebrates while Patrick Ryder (L)_ and Dustin Fletcher of Essendon show thier disappointment as the final siren soundsduring the AFL Round 05 ANZAC Day match between the Collingwood Magpies and the Essendon Bombers at the MCG, Melbourne. (Photo: Michael Willson/AFL Photos)
As round ten comes to a close and the mid-year byes are upon us, it gives everyone a chance to sit back and reflect on what a great AFL season it has been so far.
A new club has come into the competition and they’ve played admirably and their new stadium has opened. Greats of the game are showing their age however still starring, while a few young guns are blossoming into elite AFL footballers.
But perhaps the best thing about this season to date is the evenness of the competition.
Great sides are crumbling to the cellar dwellers and teams tipped to lose all but a few games are taking it up to the elite. Only three wins separate the first and eleventh ranked sides.
Mediocrity can indeed cause many upsets.
I use that word “mediocrity”. Many people use that word as a tool to unfairly judge a perceived “middle of the road” team. Mediocrity should be judged on a game to game basis, not on the perceptions that popular culture dictates.
As an example, on the weekend Carlton got absolutely demolished by Port Adelaide. People will say things like “Chris Judd was down”, “They had injuries”, or whatever. The reason Chris Judd was down was because Kane Cornes shut him down superbly and as for the injuries, every team has them. Top sides will push through those adversities, while others will use them as an excuse for sub-par performances.
The fact of the matter is that Port Adelaide wanted it more. They were ruthless, far superior around the stoppages and had more run through the corridor.
In that game, Port Adelaide were superb and Carlton were mediocre at best. Neither are wholly mediocre.
Form leads to labels, but people need to be mindful of individual performances rather than the overall perception of a club.
One can say that Melbourne have been poor all year, but that turned around on the weekend. Even if they win their next couple of games; that tag of mediocrity will stick with them, such is the landscape of AFL Football.
See, the majority of expectations are based on reputation.
We see a bloke named Matthew Broadbent get 30 odd touches two weeks in a row and star in consecutive Port Adelaide wins, yet no one outside of South Australia would have even heard of him.
Ivan Maric heads over to Tiger Land, plays a few good games and is now being touted as a potential All-Australian Ruckman.
So you see players in a similar vein of form, yet their reputations will be much different.
And the media plays a substantial role in those misconceptions.
Nationally, Victorian clubs get a majority of the media coverage, while the interstate clubs (with the exception of the expansion clubs and the West Coast Eagles) don’t feature much at all.
National programs like Channel Nine’s The Footy Show and Fox Footy’s On the Couch and AFL 360 programs should be showing a similar amount of interest across the 18 clubs, but this isn’t always the case.
A case in point is Mike Sheehan’s Top 50. It always creates debate, and even though Mike is a top line sports journo and is entitled to his opinion, I believe he’s fallen way off the mark.
No player from South Australia features, not even Scott Thompson who averages more than 30 possessions per game at 82 per cent efficiency. I know the list was created at the start of the season and this season’s rising stars such as Callan Ward from GWS or Patrick Dangerfield from the Crows haven’t dominated like they are now in the years past. But players like Thommo and Travis Boak from Port should have been included.
In total, 12 out of 50 players chosen were from interstate clubs.
At times the media has a haphazard approach to valuing teams and players. It’s not overtly intentional; however it is negligent and somewhat ignorant.
A good journalist will cover issues in equality, not based on the perception that one club or player is more important than the other. Matthew Broadbent personifies that exact dictum.
A simple point is that irrespective of what sports journalists and commentators say, they aren’t solely the arbiters of which teams are the best and worst.
More and more in current day AFL football, the clubs themselves will dispel any notion of differentiating opinion on superiority by proving on the football field that they, like any other team can win on their given day.
The first ten rounds stand as proof that no one is safe or assured a finals berth as of yet. Hawthorn are the favourites for the flag after they belted North Melbourne on the weekend, yet they lost to Richmond by 10 goals only a week prior.
Who knows what will happen between the Hawks and Port at Football Park next week? Maybe Gold Coast will beat the Saints at Metricon or Melbourne will take it up to the Pies?
The competition is fierce, the teams are bracing themselves for a gruelling next few months and there are no real certainties in AFL Football.
One thing is for certain though: the rest of the season promises to be an absolute belter!
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