Football! Yes, it’s back, even if it is in a truncated form. Every AFL coach would tell you they are preparing for round one ,and the NAB Cup itself means very little at all beyond setting up “structures.”
Structures: that is a word used more now in the AFL than any other by players or coaches.
But it’s football, so yes, let’s have it and be grateful for the opportunity to watch blokes running around and thumping into each other.
I, for one, could care less about whether the pre-season competition itself is relevant or not.
I could care less, but not by much.
It’s the game, more than anything else, that I look forward to every year. This fast, graceful, tough and incredibly dramatic game that so often ends up presenting you with what you haven’t seen before.
Too much? Sorry, I’m a little excited.
It’s the NAB Cup, I realize this, but I am excited. A grown man should possibly know better.
It’s the first look at the boys this year, the first chance to start making predictions about what is to come and the beginning of speculation that will continue until the end of September.
For the fan, the pre-season competition is the trailer before the main feature.
The NAB Cup competition isn’t important as such – ask anybody involved in an AFL club and they will all tell you it’s about where you are at the end of round 22.
It makes sense, of course, to not peak or show your hand too early in the year.
There is always a sense of something held back during the pre-season, with little else but bragging rights at stake.
And just how important are they come September?
But it’s still football, still the game that I find so incredibly entertaining fulfilling as an observer, so let’s get on with it.
I approve of the format, from a viewing perspective, of the early rounds of the NAB cup.
Three short games from three teams is good entertainment, especially in these days of the ever-shortening attention span.
It also allows the opportunity to get a glimpse of the bulk of your team’s squad with most coaches opting to give more players shorter game time across the two fixtures in order to ease them into the season.
There is definitely a sense of value as a spectator when you are ostensibly getting three games for the price of one.
But I can imagine the wear of back-to-back games on the players, especially in February heat.
In both Saturday and Sunday’s fixtures, teams who backed up games ran out of steam in searing temperatures.
Both Adelaide and Perth average enough days over 35 degrees at this time of year to suggest it was a pretty good chance of those conditions on the weekend.
St Kilda coach Scott Watters offered it as one of the factors in his team falling away.
A case could be made of danger to player’s health in such conditions, an issue the workplace safety-conscious AFL must surely monitor closely
Our insatiability for the product, however, in quantity as well as quality, demands that these games be played.
And I’ll watch them despite any moral or ethical argument not to; whether it’s good for the players, or the competition is sound, or it dilutes the product, because it’s football.
The game. It’s back.