Plenty has changed on the AFL landscape in recent years. To the league’s credit, it has remained steadfast on a Saturday afternoon grand final and no football on Good Friday.
Both have come under threat at different times, and Collingwood president Eddie McGuire yesterday called for the AFL’s showpiece event to become a night fixture.
His logic was based on entertainment.
He opined that a million-dollar budget would get the job done, and that Meat Loaf’s much discussed performance before last season’s decider means we should overhaul the entire day.
Memo Eddie: It’s about the game, not the entertainment. An afternoon fixture is a tradition which should be protected.
The counter argument is that blockbuster fixtures played during the season are at night. But that is simply to maximise attendances and the television audience.
Most of us are fortunate enough to have grand final day as a non-work day.
The MCG is packed to capacity each year, the television audience is massive and people tune into the big game across the globe. So what is the problem?
A decision so radical as switching the time of the year’s biggest match can not be made based on the below-par performance by one singer.
Nor should it be made based on the success of the pre-match and halftime entertainment at the Superbowl. We should not always refer to the US copybook.
In fact, most years, the entertainment is of a more than acceptable level. Besides Angry Anderson’s appearance in a Batmobile in 1991 and the Meat Loaf debacle last year, it has hit the mark.
In truth, most people I know could not care less about the pre-match action.
The action on the field has delivered in spades in recent years. We can’t forget Leo Barry’s match-saving mark in 2005, or Matthew Scarlett’s sublime toe-poke to Gary Ablett which helped Geelong sink St Kilda in 2009.
I’m not suggesting the skill level would be inferior in a night match, although evidence suggests it usually is.
Thankfully, AFL CEO Andrew Demetriou has ruled out any change in the near future.
Changing the grand final to a night-time slot will not improve the entertainment. Meat Loaf’s voice would have been just as bad at night last year. Eddie’s million-dollar budget will provide the same quality of entertainment regardless of the time of day.
The two hours between the first bounce and the final siren are the significant part of grand final day. The entertainment is simply a minor part. If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.