Is there a good way to schedule byes?
The AFL fixture is by its very nature not even. We have 18 teams and only 22 games for each team to play. So it is inevitable that we will have inequities.
At the moment the draw certainly favours those that play the two new franchises twice.
But the other thing that the AFL schedulers need to consider now is the welfare of the players. It is a long and grueling season, and as a part of player management there is a bye slotted into the season.
Last year with an uneven number of teams in the competition each team had two weeks off; this certainly worked best for those teams that had these at about the one-third and two-third marks of the season.
However, now that we are back to an even number of sides, it means that we now have to consider how this happens and what it means for our game.
In the current season we have just had the first of the multi-bye rounds in which we had six teams having a week off. This will be repeated for the next two weeks.
What does this mean for the game? Well, it means that instead of the nine games each week we were reduced to six, and given there was a public holiday slotted in there, we had three days of one game and one day of three games.
As an avid viewer of games and player of the AFL marketed DreamTeam, it meant that the weekend was very light on for AFL entertainment.
Over the next two weeks we have a similar situation to play out where we don’t have the choice or sheer volume of games to watch.
The only alternative to this that I can see is to go back to what we had previously and that was a split round where we would have five games one week and four the next.
Now whilst this means we have less games than the six that I just said wasn’t enough, it would only last for two weeks and not three. It would also make things easier for the DreamTeam coaches out there and the broadcasters wouldn’t have three weeks with potentially sub-standard games to show.
I am sure the AFL aren’t looking forward to its’ premier day, Saturday, and the fixture this week that has GWS versus Richmond followed by Gold Coast versus North Melbourne!
Neither of these will rate as blockbusters and the one that will be the closer of the two, Gold Coast versus North, is between two teams that both have low supporter bases to draw upon.
I can’t see folks in WA or SA sprinting to the remote to put Channel 7 on to watch either of those games.
Now, to top all of this off, we hear from the AFL supremo Andrew Demetriou over the weekend that it is now likely that there will be two byes in 2013 and this would be undertaken by having six rounds of six games across 24 weeks. This means that we would have 18 weeks of nine-game rounds and six weeks of six-game rounds.
I think that the footy loving public can put up with three weeks of byes, but to stretch it to six would really be stretching the friendship if you ask me.
I think that the AFL really needs to consult those that pay their wages on this issue and that is us, the footy public. I am sure that there would be many that would prefer four weeks of fewer games than six weeks. Or is another option a weekend in the middle that has no games at all?
I can’t see Andy and Adrian going for a weekend without footy, but if it were marketed correctly and the local leagues were able to get in on the action and schedule their blockbusters for that weekend it may be billed as “Get Back To Grass Roots” weekend.
Anyway, no matter what they come up with there will be people that aren’t happy. Hopefully the AFL is dictated to by the fans and not the corporates and broadcasters on this issue.
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