Almanac Footy: The Dark Age of the .01 percenters is coming

To be a successful AFL club these days, you have to embrace the value of the one percenters.

You have to instill in your players a fanaticism to chase, hurry, bump and block.

You have to nurture a culture which places a high currency on knock ons, spoils, smothers and shepherds.

These sacrificial and pressure acts are the hallmark of any well drilled and disciplined unit, and if not adopted wholeheartedly, can reduce a team to rabble (and a big hello to the ‘bruise free’ Melbourne teams of the early noughties!).

However, as illuminated as we’ve got about the value of one percenters, it strikes me that we’ve only just begun to tap into the science of constructing the ultimate football team. Yes folks, to do that, we must venture to a darker place; albeit, one that’s been under our noses all this time:

The world of the .01 percenters.

Yes, this is a world where the decimal point has been moved two digits to the left. A world where AFL players are coached, schooled and upskilled to outwit umpires and psyche-out opponents with expertise.

For starters, I see the ultimate AFL player in years to come handing the ball back after a free kick in such a way which harvests every skerrick of allowable time. He will be trained to get the optimum amount of hang time on the ball, knowing that every micro-second he buys allows teammates to pick up opponents.

To advance this, I see teams engaging aerodynamics experts, who would experiment with Sherrins in wind tunnels, in search of its ‘oh so elusive’ hang time sweet spot.

Or perhaps they’d look to high school burnouts, who’d mentor players on recalcitrance, so as to hold off passing the ball right to the cusp of giving away 50 (and can’t you see how valuable someone like Vinnie Barbarino would be in this application?).

I also see inching over the mark taken to the next zenith.

Clubs would consult illusionists like David Copperfield to construct ways for their players to eat into the mark. Players would use the art of conjuring to creep meters over the spot, all the while as the umps looked on like flapped ear puppies who’d been shown a card trick.

Deliberately kicking the ball out of bounds is another facet I see regressing into the diabolical. Players will become so adept at making the ball look like it genuinely came off the side of the boot that it’ll cause riotous controversy every time umpires rule that it didn’t.

And what about putting opponents off their games…?

The AFL player in 2030 will have long left behind sledges about mums wearing army boots. He will have a degree in sports psychology and spend all 4 quarters – and indeed, the seconds leading into all 4 quarters – messing with his opponents heads. Any insecurity, character flaw or predisposition will be psychoanalyzed, so much so, that just about every player will end up shooting for goal looking like Travis Cloke.

Yes, it will be a dark age for the AFL once the .01 percenters are finally tapped into. Remonstrating with umpires will be done in a calculated way. Jumping on the spot and waving your arms to put players off when taking set shots will also have given way to something more dastardly. Indeed, it might get so dark, ‘the Manchurian Candidate’ template might be engaged so that a club will brainwash and program its own players.

The trouble is, how are we gonna find room for all this stuff in our stats charts when they’re already so crowded?


About Punxsutawney Pete

Punxsutawney Pete see's a shadow: twelve more months of winter


  1. Dave Brown says

    Haha, good question. A number of footballers have come a cropper of the .05 percenters over the years

  2. Peter,
    Like Aldous Huxley’s “Brave New World”, I fear you are closer to the truth than you realise.
    .01 %ers…coming to a stats chart near you.

  3. Luke Reynolds says

    Can just imagine the scrutiny when a player is 0.01% off his game. “He only gave us 99.99% , not acceptable in today’s game”.

  4. True Luke, but for eons innumerate sports folk have boasted of Fred or Jack giving the mathematically impossible 120% etc, so 0.01% less is still, as they say, heaps more than 100%. All good.

    PP- what’s the highest recorded % every given in a contest by a sportsperson? Generally by an ill-informed coach. Who’ll get us underway with 200%?

    Loved it PP. More Vinnie Barbarino references required in all aspects of contemporary life.

  5. Punxsu.... Pete says

    Thanks for readin fellas.

    Dave, I wonder if players prone to .05 percenters, buy into the value of the one percenters, let alone the .01 percenters? I venture once you’re .05, you haven’t got a shepherd or a smother in ya.

    Smokie, should the .01 percenter dystopia materialize, I reckon we’ll find out about it the same way we did Essendon’s injection program: on ‘4 Corners’ or ’60 Minutes.’ Clubs will certainly be covert about their explorations into it.

    Luke and Mickey, my all time favorite line about things being in excess of 100% is from ‘The Producers’ (1968 version, of course.)

    Leo to Max, “Max, you can only sell 100% of anything.”

    Max to Leo, “How much of Springtime for Hitler have we sold?”

    Leo to Max, “25,000%”

    On Vinnie Barbarino, you’d reckon he’d take handing the ball to his opponent as late as you could handing homework to Mr Kotter without getting detention. He’d revolutionize footy me thinks. There wouldn’t be such a thing as a loose player after a free.

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