Wet weather hides skill errors and effort
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Approximately seven months ago, I unwittingly enrolled myself in quite an interesting experiment. At that time, I booked myself in to fly to Melbourne to go to a doubleheader of AFL games.
My day started at the MCG where I watched Hawthorn versus Brisbane. A short tram ride later I was at Etihad Stadium to witness Port Adelaide versus Western Bulldogs.
What was to unfold on Sunday were two fairly ordinary games for very different reasons. It got me wondering, do some players hide behind the weather as an excuse?
The first game that day was played in what could be described as frustrating conditions. We saw drizzle, rain, mist and bright sunshine. However, during the course of the game the ground became wetter and wetter, which meant that the ball itself became wet and slippery.
Ordinarily this would be cause for the players to be excused for fumbling and dropping simple marks and just general all round below average performances. Whilst there was an element of this during the game, it certainly wasn’t so bad to the point where players couldn’t put in a spectacle and use their skills to a degree of advantage.
There were still high pack marks, players bouncing down the wing and the deft handballs in tight spaces that hit the target. Goals were kicked from incredible angles.
Along with this there were some dropped chest marks and some horrible kicks where the ball had clearly slipped out of the hands. But all in all it was a good game that put some of our best on show; I bet that guys like Lance Franklin could play in a tornado.
The second game of the day was under the roof (and the fans were thankful for that as it was freezing outside!) and so you would expect that the game should have none of the skill errors that the previous one exhibited.
However, how wrong I could have been. There were any number of skill errors whereby kicks were missing targets (by a fair distance in some cases) and handballs went straight to opposition players. Marks were dropped with alarming regularity.
I must admit I wondered if someone had greased up the ball just to make it fair on those guys that had played earlier in the day. But alas, this excuse wasn’t available to these guys.
So this is what got me to thinking that some supporters of the poorer teams in the competition who play the majority of their games out in the weather (i.e. the teams that don’t have Etihad as a home ground) perhaps may use the weather conditions as an excuse for the poor ball handling of their team a bit to easily.
Granted the two sides I saw on Sunday night are far from the best going around in the AFL having amassed a huge nine wins between them out of a possible 23 games, but to be an AFL player you should have a certain level of skill under pressure (although, sadly, some of the skill errors occurred with little or no pressure).
So in reflection on this, I guess that what this showed me is that there is a bigger skill gap than what some of us think in the AFL.
After watching a top side like Hawthorn use the ball like it was a dry day or a game under a roof, I was most concerned to see two sides in the Western Bulldogs and Port Adelaide have so much difficulty with the skills of the game in the perfect conditions that Etihad Stadium provides.
And before you all jump on me for kicking the lower teams when they are down, I am a Power supporter and that is what made watching that game even more disheartening!