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Opinion

The AFL's Goldilocks decision

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Roar Rookie
14th August, 2020
10

It’s been billed as the festival of footy. 

Thirty-three games in 20 days was promoted as the answer to the current COVID situation to continue to propel the season towards its climatic end. We are now midway through this gaggle of games and the question is starting to be asked: are we footy fatigued?

Unfortunately due to Melbourne’s stage-four lockdown, the water cooler conversation litmus test has been put on the back burner, however the ever entertaining talkback radio slots and friendly Zoom chats suggest that this festival of footy is dividing fans.

In the red corner, weighing in at 33 games in 20 days, is the group that loves seeing footy every day, even twice a day. They are the hardcore fans that absorb everything and don’t want to miss a minute for fear of missing out on a shocking Brian Taylor call or a Richo obviousism.

In the blue corner is the group weighing in at nine games a week with a gap in the middle to watch Robbo’s head bobble about nightly. It’s a heavyweight bout with plenty of pros and cons for both models.

Who are you supporting? More importantly, which colour will the AFL choose for when COVID gets voted out of the Big Brother house?

Trent Cotchin of the Tigers is tackled by Cam Rayner of the Lions

(Photo by Michael Willson/AFL Photos via Getty Images)

Since the inception of the mid-season bye, we’ve seen the AFL season grind to a halt. Sure, it provided a welcome break for the players for which we’re sure they are grateful. It provided clear air for all the games of the week so that some teams could have some prime-time love.

But it felt as though those staggered weeks dragged on. Huge gaps between games meant that the media had to fill those gaps with stories about WAGs, rumours and innuendo that otherwise would not have made the final cut. Talks of State of Origin or a mid-season trade period certainly were entertaining, but is this festival of footy a possible solution?

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Wall-to-wall footy is a brilliant concept. With the advancements of Fox Footy and especially Kayo, now we have an affordable way of viewing until our heart is content. But is it too much? Can the clubs sustain their style of footy in this condensed format without losing too many soldiers? But as a viewer, is having too many games this often turning you off?

Tom Stewart of the Cats kicks the ball

(Photo by Albert Perez/AFL Media/via Getty Images)

One concern at the moment is the possibility of increasing the risk of injury. With such little time between games, it does limit the amount of recovery and preparation the players and clubs are able to do. Because of this, we have seen clubs manage their players, but we’ve also seen a spate of injuries that potentially could be a result of this cluster of games.

Often out of necessity comes innovation and if clubs are forced to manage players and their rotation policy is tested from game to game, could we see any of the following?

1. An increase in the numbers of players on a list. At the moment they have a total list of 44 including their rookies. With an increase to allow for these high rotations, it does pave the way for greater opportunities for all players.

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2. An increase in the number of players on the bench. Why four? Why is this the magic number? Could we have four players and one sub and the sub is only used when a player is injured and out of the game? Why should a team be disadvantaged just because one of their players suffers an injury?

3. A normalised season with a footy festival midway through during the bye rounds and then back to the normalised fixture?

4. We’ve always highlighted that the AFL isn’t even. There’s not enough rounds to play each other twice, but you do play some teams again. Is this now an opportunity to play everyone twice, reduce the rest between the rounds to four or five days and get through a full season where the fixture sees you play everyone home and away?

Like Goldilocks, the AFL are faced with three delicious bowls of porridge all with their pros and cons. Do they stick with the tried and tested, albeit a bit cold? Possibly they have a crack at the new and exciting but very hot bowl? Which do you think is just right?

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