Over the next three weeks, three rounds of six games will be played, unbalancing the already unfair AFL fixture once more and forcing fans to find alternate winter activities.
In a perfect world, byes wouldn’t exist. Fans, broadcasters and let’s be honest probably the AFL hate them. But we live in a world where everyone is entitled to a break now, so they’re here to stay.
The AFL season seems to lose momentum throughout the middle part of the year. We have three weeks where games are not on in their regular time slots and because there are less games being played, less on field content is being created. All this means is that we have to listen to media speculation about who is and isn’t signing their contracts. That is never a good thing.
I know it is freezing and wet outside. I know it is tempting to put the feet up and enjoy a warm beverage by the fire at this time of the year, but I say no! Footy is a winter sport. A time to be outside and rugged up, braving the cold conditions. We don’t need three weeks of minimal games to watch and attend in the middle of the year.
Putting the cold aside, there is also some serious inequality questions a three week bye system creates.
North Melbourne will face Adelaide on Thursday week at the Adelaide Oval. Adelaide coming off an eleven day break, North off two consecutive six day breaks. Similarly, Collingwood will have a bye this weekend and then front Fremantle. The Dockers coming off a six day break. The Pies a twelve day sabbatical.
Doesn’t seem right does it? Well consider this –
Given the three week bye system, some teams have to play the first fourteen games before they get a week off, where as other teams only have to play twelve matches of footy. Does this mean the Giants will be more fresh for finals given their bye comes in Round 15? Or are they more prone to injuries because they’ve had to play more games in a row before a rest?
Good questions to ask I feel.
The AFL tries to ease the pain by plonking some Thursday night games in at this time of the year as well. I am all for Thursday night footy, but when this leaves only five games on the weekend following, I start to get annoyed.
There is no easy solution to this issue. A split round still poses issues of teams playing teams who are fresher than the other and byes coming earlier or later for some clubs than others. Broadcasters wouldn’t like the idea of a weekend without football, and in an earlier article I wrote why the AFL doesn’t need State of Origin Footy. The split round is probably the compromised solution.
Ultimately this issue is a small fish in a big pond of fixture issues. A total reform of the draw is majorly needed and until that happens, inequality in the draw is going to continue. Isn’t it ironic that we call it a draw, yet scores really are not level between teams in this competition.
So for the next three weekends, perhaps catch up on some sleep, work out who to vote for or watch some replays. Winter is coming.