Every Monday night DTTalk’s regular GWS guru @RLGriffin85 steps up to the plate to articulate the thoughts of AFL Dream Team coaches everywhere. Be it pointing the finger of blame at Senior AFL Coaches, setting a fire below underperforming players or just throw away comments about how bad Zac ‘Lurch’ Dawson really is; there’s no topic he isn’t willing to write about! Who’s in his sights this week?
An Open Letter to: The Rules Committee
Dear AFL Rules Committee,
Let me tell you a story. You seem to like stories over facts and physics. Muddled definitions and a lack of clarity seem to be your thing. So here goes:
Once upon a time I was in a relationship with a beautiful girl. A beautiful, loving, crazy as bat-shit girl! One day I came home and she was done up to the nines, dressed (barely) in a skimpy outfit that would make Shane Crawford blush. I was very impressed. After a hard day of Saturday overtime I would get to be spoiled as I walked thr… “I’m going out” she said. I just shook my head in disbelief.
You see we had plans to go out that night; a romantic dinner at home, followed by coffee at a café and then on to a late night movie. Her choice of course! I mean I’d never suggest going out on a date at the same night as footy game, but nonetheless, I was willing to put aside a Saturday night football match to spend the night with her. The fact that North Melbourne vs Brisbane Lions was the only free to air match on had nothing to do with it.
But instead of going along with the plans we had made, she decided to change the rules on me. I wasn’t angry, confused perhaps, but not angry. I figured, okay, I’d been at work and she had the whole day to herself, she would have done the right thing by me, maybe even prepared me a meal, I could still salvage the night. I was wrong. Neeld selecting Colin ‘Glass Bones’ Sylvia over Tom ‘Pick Me’ Couch wrong!
Even though I spent all day Saturday working overtime to pay off her my credit card, she thought the best thing to do with her time during the day was to make vodka jelly-shots for her friends, screw around with the DVD player only to break the TV (all in the name of watching some shitty Matthew McConaughey movie), and simply, be about as selfish as Taylor Walker in front of goal. To make room in the fridge for the vodka, out came my beer to the bench, out came the steak I was going to have for dinner to the freezer, and with the TV not working, out came the angry.
Now I’m not the angry type. I find provocation funny; like watching Aaron Sandilands try to well, anyone. And provocation is usually as effective as Zac Dawson trying to spear a pass across the defensive fifty whilst under pressure. But when you change the rules half way through plans, because you think you can, with no consultation or acceptance for logic, you’re going to piss someone off. That brings me to you.
Let’s look at some raw, out of context data: I know you’ll love it!
The official Laws of Football document on the AFL website is 88 pages long, with 107 different rules, laws or definitions and interpretations (that’s how many I counted; I may have missed some). The document guides the game; from the size of the padding on the behind posts to the regulations around lifting a teammate (page 56 for those from Fremantle who have considered throwing Hayden Ballantyne over the fence). Compare this to that over-ruled, over adjudicated round ball game soccer, which has 17 rules.
In 1994, you, the Rules Committee believed the game needed to be sped up, increasing the number of interchange players to 3. Again in 1998 the Committee added another interchange player to speed up the game. In 2006, again to speed up the game, timed set shots were introduced (and in part because Matthew Lloyd was only allowing ten minutes of actual play time per quarter). Then in 2011, you, the Committee believed the game was too quick, reducing the interchange and introducing a sub. What… the hell… are you doing!? Aussie Rules is not your play thing.
Now, in 2012, the Rules Committee want to make another change. No sliding. Maybe it’s been too long since you played the game. Sliding is (a) a legitimate technique for decades for protecting yourself when approaching a contest whilst keeping your hands free to dispose of the ball, and (b), fun! If Adam Goodes slides into a contest to get the ball, keeping his weight balanced to dish off a handball, and another player also attacks the football, but chooses not to protect himself, if that player gets hurt, apparently that would be through Adam’s negligence, not his own!? That’s the dumbest thing I heard since Adam Cooney was announced the winner of the Brownlow medal!
If sportsmen liked the idea of a kicking game where you can still use your hands, where contact only came from one direction, the pace could be controlled by the referee and players had to be standing when picking up the ball or otherwise get penalised, they’d play Rugby Union. The dynamics of AFL in which a player could be hit from any direction, can slide, jump and generally attack the football from any position, whilst taking due care for others is what draws so many to the game. If a player gets injured because they don’t protect themselves (see: Justin Koschitzke’s line of sight), that’s their own fault! Yes the AFL is a professional organisation, but so is the Ultimate Fighting Championship and the Army; employees know what they risk when they sign up.
Fans love the game. Fans don’t love getting screwed around. Don’t micromanage every little spot fire that flares up. Accidents happen; look at Richmond drafting Tambling before Franklin, oops! When you change the rules you’ll get a counter reaction. Already this round, players are diving in head first to contests or second guessing approaches after you announced a crack down on sliding. You sped up the game; players got tired and rotated more. You told players to get to the ball first, players slid in. You stop players sliding in; they’ll find another way to hurt each other whilst trying to win the ball.
When it comes to the rule book, let me give you some advice that was of great help to me when I was fourteen. ‘Keep your hands off it, do not screw around with it, and with any luck, you won’t piss anyone off enough to cut it off’! Thanks for the advice dad – going well so far.
The Wider AFL Community