State of the game?


State of the game [click to enlarge]

Check out Dips’ take on this topic.

AFL: The state of the game and the truth of the matter.


AFL: The State of the Game Part 2. The Ramblings of a Madman.



About David Wilson

David Wilson is a hydrologist, climate reporter and writer of fiction & observational stories. He writes under the name “E.regnans” at The Footy Almanac and has stories in several books. One of his stories was judged as a finalist in the Tasmanian Writers’ Prize 2021. He shares the care of two daughters and likes to walk around feeling generally amazed. Favourite tree: Eucalyptus regnans.


  1. Need more goal squares

  2. E.regnans says

    Why not, Smokie?
    Maybe more balls?


    Strange days. But AFL is playing from the trial-marketing handbook.
    1. Suggest a problem.
    2. Float possible solutions. (some outrageous, thereby altering the idea of what is acceptable)
    3. Gauge reaction.
    4. All while maintaining brand airtime.

  3. E.regnans says

    Yikes. It’s the Trump strategy paradigm.

  4. Smoke – perhaps we need a Zooper square? Maybe a Marvel one too…

    E.r – truly this is the darkest timeline…

  5. E.regnans says

    It’s the AFL method.
    Look at how they handled AFLW after Round 1, 2018.
    Round 1!

  6. Correct. It was worse than that – it was game 1 of Round 1, the other three were cracking matches.

    Reactive would be putting it mildly!

  7. E.regnans says

    Worth considering AFLX as a pretty good example of how the AFL creates things.
    Also good to remember that the AFL is just one league.
    It is not the sport.

  8. Jarrod_L says

    Yep, plenty of good footy news around – some of it happens to take place across the road from Percy’s, luckily!

  9. E.regnans says

    There are so many parts to this issue – to the fact that this has even become an issue.
    – The rise of social media.
    – Insecurities of league admin.
    – Recency bias in understandings.
    – Dubious motives throughout.
    – Lack of clearly articulated position.
    – (shared) Sense of ownership of the game
    – trial-marketing approach
    – the rise of in-house media (propaganda arms)

    And all of this quite aside from ideas of what the game is/ should be/ could be.

  10. Dave Brown says

    Trouble is, ER, the AFL is effectively the sport, given the AFL Commission is responsible for the game nationally. I have no idea if they have an idea of what that actually means (I’m not sure I do either).

    What has been interesting throughout this is not just the in-house media toeing the party line but the other major AFL media: Ch 7, Fox Sports, SEN and Crocmedia (in all its combinations) also doing so. Are they beholden to the AFL or is this just a good source of hate clicks?

  11. While I share the suspicion of AFL motives, I am no lover of the modern over-coached defensive game. Sure there are great exceptions to the rule like the Geelong-Melbourne game on Saturday night, but they are not the rule.
    There is a lot of sanctimonious rubbish talked about “not changing the rules” as if they were sacred tablets handed down by the gods. When I started watching footy in the early 60’s there was:
    – no interchange; just 19th and 20th man replacements;
    – no out of bounds on the full;
    – no centre square;
    – no 50 metres penalties – it was 10 yards;
    – one umpire and no video of games permitted widespread thuggery – see MatthewsL; NealeK: ODeaJ; FraserM(non-PM)
    Is that what the “don’t change the rules” Originalists want? As for political parallels – the US Supreme Court is being stacked with “original intent” conservatives who refuse to adapt constitutional principles to modern circumstances. The exact opposite of what the AFL is trying to do – for whatever motives. That is encourage a more open free flowing game with fewer stoppages and more one-on-one or two-on-two contests.
    I am all for change – so long as it well thought through and tested.

  12. PB interesting point. I am in the leave-the-game-alone camp because there is no articulated view as to what the alternative is. I would happily embrace change if the AFL described exactly what it is that they are trying to achieve, so long as what they are trying to achieve also embraces the spirit of the game’s origins – freedom of movement, reasonable body contact etc, etc.

    Except for the first change you note above, none of the others really attacks the game’s essence, but rather go to the game’s “administration”. What troubles me now is (as ER notes above) horrific examples like AFLX and it being held up as a success! If I want to watch training drills I’ll go and watch on a Thursday night for free.

    Perhaps this all goes back to a lack of a cultural history ever being considered (I think Citrus made this point). If this history was researched and written with academic intellect and no agendas, we might all understand exactly what it is that we have. And what it is that we need to protect.

    Your point about stacking the US Supreme Court has been going on for 200 years!

  13. E.regnans says

    The AFL role is odd. I agree D Brown.
    At once protectors or guardians or custodians of the game, while also being administrators of a footy competition.
    On one hand, with duty to look after the game; on the other, a duty to ravenously chase dollars to pay staff and players, which feeds a need for sponsorship and commercial interests.
    Sometimes these work harmoniously.
    But not always.

    Is there a need for separating the functions?

  14. E.regnans says

    “Gillon McLachlan confirms the AFL is talking about trialling new rules in games this season“ – report via SEN in Twitter.

    “If the AFL decide to trial In-Season, Dean Bailey would be turning in his grave. Supposedly Tanked, trialled players/ positions and brought the game into disrepute. They can’t be serious?“
    – Brad Green via Twitter.

    How’s that AFL Integrity Unit looking?
    Strange days.

  15. John Butler says

    PB, the rules (or “interpretations”) have been tinkered with every year in recent memory, so the “don’t change the rules” push would seem to have little traction.

    The relevant point to me is where this micro-management of the game starts to affect the underlying ethos and integrity of the sport. Aussie Rules was distinguished by its freedom – no offside, 360 degree movement, the random bounce of an oval ball.

    Yes, there is a valid problem with what the exponential rise of coaching resources has tended to produce, but excuse me if I fail to be reassured that the AFL bureaucrats will sort it ll out.

    An excellent discussion folks.

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