Each year, a new line of guernseys for Sir Doug Nicholls Round is rolled out, and each year they all look good.
This year, however, they’ve gone a step further – whether that’s a product of the clubs offering more creative licence to the artists who conceive them or simply a coincidence, there is a greater departure from the traditional guernseys than usual in 2019, and I like it.
I jokingly asked a friend why the clubs don’t wear them every week – he agreed, and I soon realised my joke was actually a terrific idea.
Why don’t we? They look better, and it would provide a weekly nod to the Indigenous Australians who have played such a significant role in shaping our game.
The designs could be worn each and every week, and at the end of the year a new one could be voted upon by the fans.
The benefits are numerous: multiple artists every year get a chance to show off their work, fans get a chance to be more directly involved with their club, and most importantly we’ll have the best looking guernseys in world sport.
If that’s too gimmicky, then just settle on a design and wear it all the time.
Of course, there would be plenty of arguments against the idea.
“But what about respecting tradition!?” is one I can already hear being bleated by people who probably have no interest in tradition in literally any other circumstance.
We had this debate a few years ago when a number of teams were too afraid to widen their stripes by a couple of centimetres for fear of upsetting the apple cart and we can all safely agree in hindsight that entire argument was relatively mundane.
Who honestly cares if their club doesn’t wear the exact same jumper as it did 50 years ago? You don’t see people getting up in arms about the fact that no one wears scratchy woolen jumpers with redundant collars anymore.
Some of you will no doubt shout from the rafters that this is yet another idea brought about by the age of political correctness – an obsession with doing the right thing by everyone even in the absence of any particular need for change.
Maybe that’s true – there’s no problem with our current jumpers and Indigenous Round is already a great annual occasion.
But even if you’re not someone who wants to think about the potential social benefits, surely you can agree that these jumpers simply look better, and games played wearing them are more aesthetically pleasing.
The AFL is desperate to spread the game abroad, something evidenced by their obsession with AFLX and playing in China – two things that nobody else cares about.
Attracting interest in a product that an international audience aren’t particulary interested in isn’t easy, but if someone dragged me kicking and screaming to a round-ball football game and the players were wearing outrageously colourful and unique tops, I know I’d be a slightly higher chance of going back the next week.
The jumpers every club will wear this week – without a single exception – look fantastic, far better than their traditional counterparts.
What a great way to add another element of individuality to a game with it coming out of every pore.
They are uniquely Australian, and they have a history and a story behind them. The same could be said about most of our current jumpers, but these jumpers cover those bases to an even larger degree – so why not?