In the last few days, Patrick Dangerfield has come out to say that the AFL season is too long. He is involved and has thrown his support around the AFLX. I have a huge issue with him and his statements about a game that seems to be bordering on becoming ‘Americanised’.
The AFL is pushing the AFLX. The release of the ‘comic-like’ guernseys. The announcement of the teams and which stars are in them. I for one have no interest whatsoever in this stream of footy. It is far too American-centric; far too commercially laden and everything that I detest in sport – a spectacle and not a game. I won’t be watching – at all. The AFL has brought out ‘dolls’ with only four clubs being rolled out. The AFL seems to be pushing the commercialization of the game before the actual fan experience of the game. They seem to be moving towards what rakes in the money the most rather than determining what will ensure the successful longevity of the actual game. In doing so they have pushed aside the strides they made in the AFLW competition.
They are now looking at making some games start with what was happening many years ago – a game opener of either a VFL match. Why this was ever taken away is beyond me. In these matches, you got to see a team’s future stars and got to know them as players. When they then, if they did, play in the senior team, you as a supporter, knew the player, how they played and what they would bring to a game. It made you want to get to the ground earlier and spend a day watching a game you loved.
Dangerfield has stated that the AFL season is too long. He is so out of touch with what the fans want and is only interested in pushing his agenda. The season is not too long, it is just right. His push to make the season shorter is coupled with his push to make the AFLX successful. Why? I believe it is to do with financial gain more than anything. I am pretty sure that those players involved in the AFLX will be paid a substantial amount of money for a game that in reality, not many will go and watch.
It seems that the AFL and Dangerfield are hell-bent on copying the American version of sports and don’t, therefore, understand the Australian sporting community – the fans. We don’t want to be continually copying America for if we do we are going to lose what is so great about footy. It’s our game, our sport in our environment. To make it anything else means that those in power believe that this is the way to make it better and have more of a fan base. It is not.
Maybe the AFL and Dangerfield are scared that in grass-roots sports, more children are playing soccer than footy. Maybe they feel that by making the game more Americanised it will bring children back to the game. It won’t. In fact, it will do the opposite – it will turn children away. What will bring back more involvement of children to the game is to support the game itself and not make it something that it is not – an Americanized version of the game. To ensure that the integrity of the game is not compromised. To ensure that for a family, taking their kids to a game will not put a gigantic hole in their pockets in terms of admission fees and food. To put back into the community game – grassroots – and not into the pushing of the game that for the majority of fans, no-one is interested in.
The AFL and Dangerfield are so out of touch with what fans want if they believe that the AFLX or shortening the length of the season will do anything positive for the actual game itself. Dangerfield needs to understand that without the fans, he does not have a career. Both the AFL and Dangerfield must start looking at what the fans want and not what they want. They have to start to understand that every time they infuse some commercially-based Amercian-based concept, they will lose fans.
Footy is a community game, forged by a community, instigated by a community and supported by one. The AFL has a great opportunity to encourage more participants in grass-roots footy with the AFLW but pushes more time and investment into the AFLX. What a waste! The game is not some bastardized American sideshow. I love footy and I cannot wait for season 2019 – both ALF and AFLW – to start, but not the AFLX.