Does the AFL administration do more to hinder the game than grow it

Roaming Lou

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Oct 9, 2019
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The AFL is becoming more of an entertainment brand every year. Maximizing crowd attendances, tv ratings and maintaining a family-friendly atmosphere is assigned the highest priority. In its current state, footy still maintains a balance between sporting professionalism and 'excitement factor', but I believe this is changing especially as the board look for novel ideas to crack into new markets and the push-back from traditionalists starts to die out. There is more eagerness to grow the game in these facets than there is to consolidate what makes it great in the first place.

You could argue that American professional sports have reached a saturation point, and that we should look closely at the future of these codes to see a glimpse of what we might encounter in our own.
As a traditionalist I would at least like to see them have streamers on the ground again, this adds to the family friendly atmosphere, but anyway I agree. But the traditionalist push back will come again, like waves.
 

JoondalupJ

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The AFL is becoming more of an entertainment brand every year. Maximizing crowd attendances, tv ratings and maintaining a family-friendly atmosphere is assigned the highest priority. In its current state, footy still maintains a balance between sporting professionalism and 'excitement factor', but I believe this is changing especially as the board look for novel ideas to crack into new markets and the push-back from traditionalists starts to die out. There is more eagerness to grow the game in these facets than there is to consolidate what makes it great in the first place.

You could argue that American professional sports have reached a saturation point, and that we should look closely at the future of these codes to see a glimpse of what we might encounter in our own.
What we will encounter, is a game that is not what it is meant to be, a running game of less skilled athletes, and umpire driven decisions, our game is being killed off. The modernisation is not making it better, in many aspects, it is far far worse, problem is commercialised money gathering at the expense of the reality of football, and its fans member supporters, it is not Australian Rules anymore.
We must change something soon, or we will lose what it is, a contact, contest , football skilled sport with a very hard to judge ball, that moves anywhere yet with rules, NOW, that stymie competitive play, where some contact is so petty yet stops the flow, or stops a chance, its a game where now an umpire can change the course of a result, can make personal decisions without anyone else knowing and sometimes penalise a professional sportsperson who is angered and frustrated in the heat of battle, AND, he may become abusive, and perhaps the umpire with the beyond adjudicating the sport, the power and the greyness of lots of rules, has actually caused the angst and fury in the players attitude in the first place , both umpire and AFL to blame..

It is when a player is deliberately bumped challenged whacked off the ball and an umpire witnesses the sometimes reflex retaliation, action of a footballer attacked ( al la James Sicily!) and does not have the nous to discriminate between the offender and the retaliator he simply assumes, how many times have you seen your team disadvantaged from some petty umpiring?

But the umpires have been drilled and politically indoctrinated into a heavy-duty contact sport, and trying to turn it into some nicer easier type of thing
IT HAS NEVER BEEN EASY NOE MEANT TO BE EASY! That is the whole damn point!
But when a game is diluted you have to give leeway to those who in normal circumstances before the "additions" would not get a game!
They are changing it to a point where defending with force is getting impossible.
Yet the AFL has not achieved its large scoring margins they wanted and the irregular game win v losses when a top club can annihilate another club one week and then get flogged the next, or lose by a whisker because a petty minor touching free kick, is awarded sometimes by an umpire who didn't see or can't keep up that creates a score , or stiffles a chance to defend and rebound, usually the percentages of scores at the high end are from free kicks that many people don't understand and sometimes other field umpires don't understand.

This is our game today , don't doubt it , it is about money and bulldust, and manipulation, and we should be trying to get it back to resemble real football!
 

Farang83150

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May 23, 2010
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Maybe need to take a leaf out of the international soccer set up (not that the AFL aren't already as bent as FIFA), but as in have another separate body as soccer does with the IFAB.
 

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AndyD

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Dec 23, 2006
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What we will encounter, is a game that is not what it is meant to be, a running game of less skilled athletes, and umpire driven decisions, our game is being killed off. The modernisation is not making it better, in many aspects, it is far far worse, problem is commercialised money gathering at the expense of the reality of football, and its fans member supporters, it is not Australian Rules anymore.
We must change something soon, or we will lose what it is, a contact, contest , football skilled sport with a very hard to judge ball, that moves anywhere yet with rules, NOW, that stymie competitive play, where some contact is so petty yet stops the flow, or stops a chance, its a game where now an umpire can change the course of a result, can make personal decisions without anyone else knowing and sometimes penalise a professional sportsperson who is angered and frustrated in the heat of battle, AND, he may become abusive, and perhaps the umpire with the beyond adjudicating the sport, the power and the greyness of lots of rules, has actually caused the angst and fury in the players attitude in the first place , both umpire and AFL to blame..

It is when a player is deliberately bumped challenged whacked off the ball and an umpire witnesses the sometimes reflex retaliation, action of a footballer attacked ( al la James Sicily!) and does not have the nous to discriminate between the offender and the retaliator he simply assumes, how many times have you seen your team disadvantaged from some petty umpiring?

But the umpires have been drilled and politically indoctrinated into a heavy-duty contact sport, and trying to turn it into some nicer easier type of thing
IT HAS NEVER BEEN EASY NOE MEANT TO BE EASY! That is the whole damn point!
But when a game is diluted you have to give leeway to those who in normal circumstances before the "additions" would not get a game!
They are changing it to a point where defending with force is getting impossible.
Yet the AFL has not achieved its large scoring margins they wanted and the irregular game win v losses when a top club can annihilate another club one week and then get flogged the next, or lose by a whisker because a petty minor touching free kick, is awarded sometimes by an umpire who didn't see or can't keep up that creates a score , or stiffles a chance to defend and rebound, usually the percentages of scores at the high end are from free kicks that many people don't understand and sometimes other field umpires don't understand.

This is our game today , don't doubt it , it is about money and bulldust, and manipulation, and we should be trying to get it back to resemble real football!
I think it’s a little simplistic to blame the umpires. If anything the umpiring is just a symptom of the problem and not the cause. You watch any stretch of plays from the 60s and look at what was considered holding the ball would draw countless breathless responses from all and sundry today for being too trigger happy/ticky touchwood. That being said, the AFL does seem to be pretty intent on removing the element of physical confrontation out of the game, which was a key part in the game becoming as popular as it is. If you take that part out of the game, all you really have left is a training drill.

One of the keys to reducing executive manipulation would be to make the contract info for all AFL execs publicly available. Why is it fair for players contract info to be so publicly reported, when Gil and his teams isn’t? If the public knew exactly who and how they would benefit monetarily from higher scores/attendances, they would probably be more sceptical of those who spruik those changes/proposals. Would anybody really be shocked if the executive team that signed off on the GC draft assistance has any of their remuneration linked to attendances/ratings for GC? Should the playing field be changed for all teams just so an AFL exec can achieve their bonuses? The simplest way to solve this is to let everybody knows who benefits.

One way the players could possibly change this is pushing for a greater share of the revenue they generate. If the players get more of the money they generate, there is less for the AFL to waste on themselves. In the last CBA I think they settled for around 25 cents in every dollar of revenue generated. Most US sports are at/above 50 cents (and was previously as high as around 60 cents). The AFL would basically have to double the salary cap to get to that level. The way most sports leagues look to “grow” their game is to grow the pie that everybody eats from so that everybody gets a bigger slice. The players could essentially achieve the same result by removing the amount of needless mouths they feed from the table or reducing the amount they give to those that bring nothing


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JoondalupJ

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I think it’s a little simplistic to blame the umpires. If anything the umpiring is just a symptom of the problem and not the cause. You watch any stretch of plays from the 60s and look at what was considered holding the ball would draw countless breathless responses from all and sundry today for being too trigger happy/ticky touchwood. That being said, the AFL does seem to be pretty intent on removing the element of physical confrontation out of the game, which was a key part in the game becoming as popular as it is. If you take that part out of the game, all you really have left is a training drill.

One of the keys to reducing executive manipulation would be to make the contract info for all AFL execs publicly available. Why is it fair for players contract info to be so publicly reported, when Gil and his teams isn’t? If the public knew exactly who and how they would benefit monetarily from higher scores/attendances, they would probably be more sceptical of those who spruik those changes/proposals. Would anybody really be shocked if the executive team that signed off on the GC draft assistance has any of their remuneration linked to attendances/ratings for GC? Should the playing field be changed for all teams just so an AFL exec can achieve their bonuses? The simplest way to solve this is to let everybody knows who benefits.

One way the players could possibly change this is pushing for a greater share of the revenue they generate. If the players get more of the money they generate, there is less for the AFL to waste on themselves. In the last CBA I think they settled for around 25 cents in every dollar of revenue generated. Most US sports are at/above 50 cents (and was previously as high as around 60 cents). The AFL would basically have to double the salary cap to get to that level. The way most sports leagues look to “grow” their game is to grow the pie that everybody eats from so that everybody gets a bigger slice. The players could essentially achieve the same result by removing the amount of needless mouths they feed from the table or reducing the amount they give to those that bring nothing


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That's a great post, and yes my mistake, I did emphasize the umpire influence a bit too much.
Of course, the umpiring is totally based on how they are trained and what they are told to watch for and deliver, I find that a problem in itself as the rules people seem to make things up as they go.
Maybe a generalisation, but look at the confusion in the game, including some umpires left standing foolishly sometimes explaining and trying to ignore the ranting player standing on a mark for a free against him, he doesn't understand, and its an understatement to say the crowd may be a bit angry!
This is not always the case but too often it is the case.
As for the coffers of the AFL and how much money is made and how the pie you describe is shared, well that is a very very difficult question to answer , because the AFL besides being a law unto itself is a secret society almost in the hierarchy?
The fact that TV rights and money and better advertising coverage may see these greedy individuals change the greatest tradition we've got , GRand Final on Saturday afternoon.
To some a petty worry , to many, though, another devastating chink cut out of the armour of our traditions.

I call daily for a review of who runs our game, and definitely the contact lessening , means the contest also leesens, I don't mean the biff, I don't mean the knock out men we've seen I simply mean body on body arm against arm hip against hip , being able to lay a fair bump , being able to match speed and strength without a whistle. Those things are going away, and soon, as two of my adult sons who live in Melbourne now have done, lots of us will abandon it, they've let slip their memberships. Myself and another son have held on .
The finals this year, worst ever , the season 2019 not much better, the China thing is a nonsense, it just is.
The Essendon thing guilty or innocent, a debacle from all sides.
Since Demetriou and McGlachlan, the Australian Rule, has been abandoned, they have murdered the sport.
I guess I'm a little angry.
 

JoondalupJ

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As a traditionalist I would at least like to see them have streamers on the ground again, this adds to the family friendly atmosphere, but anyway I agree. But the traditionalist push back will come again, like waves.
Yes I think the traditionals will leave if the AFL keep killing what’s loved about the game, and they have done it for at least 10 years probably closer to 15 years. The people will move away go to less fancy venues watch real footy in the suburbs and the country, super stars sometimes become what the game is not, and people stop going two sons here in Melbourne do not attend footy anymore , watch our club on TV occasionally and gave up their memberships. Lots of the reasons to do with rules that we can,t follow or understand properly and are inconsistent, but the worst part is that the rules the way umpires are trained to read them can be so grey and opinionated perception by an individual , that it can win and lose matches, bad frees have been around for a long time human error, but never ever like the epidemic we have now.
Once the umpires rule the game , and not adjudicate, but run the show , then the game dies, and it will, as for the USA Super bowl well there are no words for that massive stop start babble contest it’s one big commercial! Plus it is a silly thing with no reasoning to it.
I will again say , the AFL is adding teams to the women , they will dilute it to the absolute for what they think may be TV dollars but they’ll kill it off , with some games that are just bad to watch and then lose out, and it’ll struggle along as a 12 or 14 side competition with massive winners and massive losers, they need the elite women’s teams to be only 8 sides for full on competitive football. But the drongos are adding more and they’ll kill it too.
 

JoondalupJ

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I think it’s a little simplistic to blame the umpires. If anything the umpiring is just a symptom of the problem and not the cause. You watch any stretch of plays from the 60s and look at what was considered holding the ball would draw countless breathless responses from all and sundry today for being too trigger happy/ticky touchwood. That being said, the AFL does seem to be pretty intent on removing the element of physical confrontation out of the game, which was a key part in the game becoming as popular as it is. If you take that part out of the game, all you really have left is a training drill.

One of the keys to reducing executive manipulation would be to make the contract info for all AFL execs publicly available. Why is it fair for players contract info to be so publicly reported, when Gil and his teams isn’t? If the public knew exactly who and how they would benefit monetarily from higher scores/attendances, they would probably be more sceptical of those who spruik those changes/proposals. Would anybody really be shocked if the executive team that signed off on the GC draft assistance has any of their remuneration linked to attendances/ratings for GC? Should the playing field be changed for all teams just so an AFL exec can achieve their bonuses? The simplest way to solve this is to let everybody knows who benefits.

One way the players could possibly change this is pushing for a greater share of the revenue they generate. If the players get more of the money they generate, there is less for the AFL to waste on themselves. In the last CBA I think they settled for around 25 cents in every dollar of revenue generated. Most US sports are at/above 50 cents (and was previously as high as around 60 cents). The AFL would basically have to double the salary cap to get to that level. The way most sports leagues look to “grow” their game is to grow the pie that everybody eats from so that everybody gets a bigger slice. The players could essentially achieve the same result by removing the amount of needless mouths they feed from the table or reducing the amount they give to those that bring nothing


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That comment “ game ends up looking like a training drill”, is a beauty ! But it’s true when the physical side is eliminated the game in itself is eliminated.
 

Master91

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Feb 5, 2020
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Selling top level Australian Rules football to Australians (especially in Melbourne, Perth and Adelaide) is a relatively simple job. However it seems that the current AFL administration appear to care only about enriching themselves, at the expense of all other considerations. This has meant manipulating (or trying to manipulate) certain outcomes (Essendon drugs issue/Melbourne tanking, GC/GWS ultra concessions, general MRP inconsistencies going back to Barry Hall in 05) to achieve the best financial result for themselves. That is one of the few things that threatens that relatively simple job as the basis of most people’s interest in any sport is that it is a fair contest and that both participants are playing by equal rules. There is a reason why the NBA outdraws the Harlem Globetrotters. Are we reaching a tipping point where people will start to turn off the more the AFL try and engineer their preferred outcome?


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The AFL are only ever concerned with making money and thats the bottom line.

There are so many issues that need to be addressed but the AFL won't touch them or make changes because they will lose money in doing so. They've created a situation where they can't change the fixture or season length (which would actually make the competition fair) because of broadcast deals for a 22 game 23 round season. Why do we play 22 games? Because 12 VFL teams played each other twice back in the day. It would make sense to change the season structure to suit the current 18 team competition, but that won't happen, because the AFL won't make as much money.

Clubs have lost their identity and soul by playing out of two Melbourne venues as well, and fans can't associate themselves or have a genuine connection with their teams any more. Deals with the MCC and Marvel ensure that the AFL maximise revenue from larger crowds. If they cared about the game and the fans, hosting matches at smaller venues with better atmospheres would occur. A packed house at Whitten Oval would be a better experience than 25,000 stretched around Marvel on a sunday afternoon. It's why Geelong never play Collingwood or Essendon at GMHBA, if we did you would get the most exciting atmosphere we've had down there in 20 years. But the AFL don't care about that, because they have contracts in place to play a certain amount of games at the MCG, so they need to fulfill those obligations.

The AFL is a business and they've taken the heart out of the game by doing so. Their decisions are not made on sense, they are made because it is beneficial to them.
 

Elite Master

Brownlow Medallist
May 20, 2011
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The AFL really wanted AFLX to succeed not only for intentional growth but also because it was apart of there long term strangely to eliminate most of the physical contact from the game so it's family friendly.
 

telsor

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The question is what is their mandate? One could guess it’s simply to bring as much money into the game at the expense of everything else and if that’s the case they are doing well.
What should their mandate be is another question all together.

I think it's more how they interpret their mandate.

"grow the game" to them probably means grow the $$$, with the theory being that with more money they can invest more money in the game.

That they might cost other (football) comps $2 for every extra $1 they invest make either doesn't cross their minds or gets dismissed.

I'm sure they believe they're doing net good, and their self belief means that they know what they're doing, etc. but at the end of the day, the Commission is (effectively) answerable to nobody, and any organisation like that is naturally prone to get self absorbed and lose it's way.
 

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Les Malone

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Jul 28, 2019
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The AFL Admin should have nothing to do with any rule changes, an independent body should though.

The AFL should not be the self appointed keeper of the code and rule changer at the same time.

It changes rules to enhance the money stream from the media and must be held to account.

Any rule change must benefit the game at all levels.
 

deltablues

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The bulk of the posts so far confirm this.

Sure, revenue is up. TV ratings are up. Club memberships are up. Bewty. AFL House are doing a marvelous job of milking money out of "content". But AFL is increasingly less about the sport of Aussie Rules and more about sedentary entertainment. Seated people all fired about with tribal passion about their AFL club, but fewer and fewer play the sport past the age of 14, or get involved in a way that involves standing up (coaching, volunteering, umpiring, etc).

It's only participation by females that is actually "growing the game". And I stress - game. AFL House just can't get out of the way to maximise that growth, because they haven't figured out how to turn it into content.

With each unwarranted rule change, I spend less time thinking, caring or watching AFL and more time with juniors and local footy. Don't even start me on the hoopla of music before the bounce at live AFL games, or the "Are you paying attention" bollocks on the big screen at half time. I love the sport. Always will. But the entertainment content can get f’ed. I don't think we're alone in feeling this way.

Anyway, I agree with your posts here mate and I'll end this ranty singing to the choir now.
The AFL is a bureaucracy in thrall to the TV industry. Its business model is based on the hype and glitz of the NFL.

It has a huge conflict of interest.

Despite it legally being an NPO, hey, it don't need no stinkin' fiduciary duty of care to the game known as Aussie Rules.

Its modestly endowed (business-wise) leadership sees itself as part of the political and corporate elite in the big end of town.

Difference being that all NFL teams [Packers excluded] are the play-things of billionaires. The AFL - not so much.

Reality check.

Suburban/amateur footy is now the only true Aussie Rules.
 

LordLucifer

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Mar 20, 2002
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The only way to have a truly equitable competition would be to blow it up and start again.
In a backhanded way you are quite right.

So, if you were starting again, how would you prefer to structure it and maintain a totally even playing field for all clubs ??
 

AndyD

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Dec 23, 2006
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That comment “ game ends up looking like a training drill”, is a beauty ! But it’s true when the physical side is eliminated the game in itself is eliminated.
Yeah the element of human confrontation is a major part of any successful sport and people will simply not watch em masse without it. Why the AFL seems hell bent on removing it is beyond me and probably says more about the individuals involved than they would care to admit.


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gingernuts

binlicker
Apr 25, 2018
683
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The AFL is a bureaucracy in thrall to the TV industry. Its business model is based on the hype and glitz of the NFL.

It has a huge conflict of interest.

Despite it legally being an NPO, hey, it don't need no stinkin' fiduciary duty of care to the game known as Aussie Rules.

Its modestly endowed (business-wise) leadership sees itself as part of the political and corporate elite in the big end of town.

Difference being that all NFL teams [Packers excluded] are the play-things of billionaires. The AFL - not so much.

Reality check.

Suburban/amateur footy is now the only true Aussie Rules.
not just TV industry but gambling industry
 

Aussie in exile

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Nov 21, 2013
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Can only speculate, but I assume that the AFL is run first and foremost like a business. They will look to increase their bottom line at the expense of a fair competition. AFL isn't a competition or a sport, its is a brand and they are treating it as such and trying to exploit it as many ways as possible. That also means they need to protect "the brand" as well.

I don't think they are looking to grow the sport, only awareness of their brand.
The AFL in my opinion will compromise the comp so that in the next 5 years GWS and GCS's win flags
 

Adelaide Hawk

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And in my opinion have zero concerns for players welfare.
Money is their God
It's the way of the world, 21st century style, not just football. The only thing that can justify the bloated salaries of CEO and administrators is the number of zeros they put on the bottom of their spreadsheets. Nobody cares about the "proletariat" these days, and in this case it's the players.
 

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