Many expert AFL analysts, and namely Tom Morris, have argued that outside of the blockbuster games each round, the other five or six matches have decreased in quality over the past ten years and that changes including anti-density laws must be implemented to fix the deterioration of the game.
However debatable that the quality of the game has depreciated over past years is, in reality, the implementation of anti-density laws will make the average home and away match considerably less attractive.
Proposed solutions vary in severity but most centre around a quota of players starting inside the attacking and defensive halves at every stoppage. Subsequently, opening up forward lines and limiting ‘rolling malls’.
In theory, more one-on-ones and higher scoring should create better spectacles, right?
However, the open forward-lines of even ten years ago would be catastrophic to the current game.
As a whole, the players of today are fitter and more skilful than their predecessors. Combined with better tactics and coaching, the game is witnessing far more attacking football than ten years ago. The last six years have seen the six highest yearly totals of inside 50s since the statistic started in 2000.
The anticipation that accompanies a closely fought contest surely outweighs the spectacle of an open, free-flowing 50-point win.
This concoction of decongested forward-lines and high inside 50 numbers will produce more blow-outs and fewer nail-biting finishes. Such an instance is highlighted by the Round 14 match between Collingwood and Carlton. A game that by no means was a ‘blockbuster’ but manifested itself as riveting.
Such a contest would be rendered ‘dull’ with the new anti-density measures.
Collingwood’s command of field position would be impervious to defensive Carlton tactics and would be almost free to pile on points on their less experienced opponents, creating a one-sided and boring contest.
Such rule adjustments will also decay ready-made blockbusters such as the Round 14 clash between Port Adelaide and Melbourne.
The Demons dominated inside 50s and clearances throughout the entire game.
Had Port not been able to clog their defensive 50, Melbourne domination would have shaped an insurmountable lead at half-time.
Instead, Port was able to weather the storm and launch a thrilling and memorable comeback.
Anti-density laws are undoubtedly going to make some games better, but the argument that it will decrease the amount of ‘dud’ games is flawed.