The shorter quarters changed the game in Round 1, when players had greater energy to play the duration of games at a higher-skilled and higher-paced standard.
The scoring went up and it certainly brought into question whether shorter quarters were in the game for the long term.
Before the season, the unique circumstances of the pandemic forced the AFL to shorten quarters from 20 minutes with time on to 16 minutes with time on. This change was mainly driven by the worry of a shortened time frame and not being able to fit in an AFL season.
So far the change has worked, with the AFL successfully pulling together a new-look fixture to complete the season. With a sample size of Round 1 to see how the shorter quarters went, it has certainly sparked some debate as to whether it is good or not.
A large number of people have the opinion that the game should be left alone, which is certainly fair and should always be kept in mind when approaching these rule changes.
However, as has been mentioned frequently in these football-less time, the pandemic has given the AFL the opportunity to revamp itself and try things for the better.
Shorters quarters is one of those changes that has been forcibly brought into the game due to the circumstances of COVID-19.
As I reflect on the differences between Round 1 this year and the 2019 season, I see the majority of the wider Australian Rules world liking the shorter quarters over the longer 20-minute quarters.
Why is this?
Firstly, as a religious follower of the game, to have patches in matches where I lose concentration and get distracted says a lot. I’m not just speaking for myself here; I think I’m speaking for a large part of Aussie Rules society.
What makes these patches happen is boredom. Players fatigue, resulting in teams being defensively focused so they don’t make an error and concede a goal. Often this will happen in the last four minutes of quarters. It can pretty much be described as ‘dead footy’. Teams just waiting for the siren to go.
What shorter quarters will do is take out this fatigue and allow players to showcase their skills to a higher standard, resulting in faster ball movement and more attacking footy, ultimately bringing higher scoring.
Secondly, while scoring increases, the shorter quarters will reduce the number of dead rubbers, where the scoreboard would suggest a team has already won by half-time. Shorter games will likely lengthen out matches to the very end, with both teams a chance of winning. As fans, we love these close encounters.
Lastly, you have the potential of increasing the number of games in the season, meaning more blockbuster games, more Thursday or Monday night matches and potentially an increase in attendance and revenue with more games for fans to attend.
Ultimately Aussie Rules is a better product with shorter quarters. Faster, higher skilled and more entertaining footy.