The Game Day Experience – what exactly is it?



The game day experience. It’s a term that bandied around from the heights of AFL HQ to the bloke ramming gibberish down our throats at every opportunity on game day. One form of that experience is expensive food and variable ticket prices that drives families away from attending the game itself.  Manufactured entertainment and blaring music.  A chance to win prizes for doing inane things that might get your scone on the scoreboard.  Signage which could have health consequences. Things being bought to you by someone who has paid to do so. Betting updates. Corporate hang-outs. Television deals. Football as a brand. Selling home games. Suits. Theatregoers.

And then there’s this. Saturation analysis by experts with dubious qualifications for being described as such. Mega walls and scribbly lines denoting patterns and other non-tangibles. Panels of talking heads. Pages of opinion and speculation. Players and coaches actions and comments scalloped, battered and fried. Statistics. More statistics. Post match interviews that provide no insight into what went on the previous two hours. Structures. Predictions and recriminations. KPIs. Footy speak. Verbs as nouns. The football industry grinding away under the weight of its own importance.

The simpler form of the experience if very different. The banter of expectant fans on a tram. The tribalism played out through team scarf and jumpers. It’s the walk to the ground. A suburban homeground. The build up in the pub or a kick to kick out side the ground. The first bounce. The first call of “baaaalll”. The first umpiring howler. The first goal. A lead at half time. Some young blokes with potential. A disappointing second half. The final siren. The club song. A kick on the ground after the game. The trudge home. Hopes of a better showing next week or perhaps another win and a chance of finals. A personal experience that footy has been built on over many years but one that nearly lead to the VFL’s demise before the introduction of a national competition.

All three are part and parcel of modern football however the first two are choking the life out of the third. Many welcome the new game day experience as it has followed the advancement of technology and up to the second information in a society that needs instant gratification. It allows a very different level of interaction although seemingly via Instagram or Facebook rather than dissecting the play with the person next to you. Others have been left behind, forced away or walked away.  Back watching grass roots footy or no footy at all.

The game barely resembles the football they grew up playing and watching. For them, every feel good moment like the Doggies premiership win is negated by congested and mistake ridden rubbish. For every Buddy or Cyril there are fifty players too scared to take a risk for fear of breaking team rules. Blistering hand skills followed by endless missed goals from directly in front. High scoring, free flowing footy evaporating at the hands of defensive coaches who would rather not score than be scored against. Rule changes designed to open up play and serve as confusing frustration.  Umpiring is hard. Stop making it harder. Rolling mauls and quick fire handballs. Just kick the bloody thing. At times the game looks like one big training drill while at other times, it rises to heights unimaginable even ten years ago.

The game day experience has certainly changed. As much as many would like, football will never return to the eighties as coaches will not allow it to. However, we must ensure the game is still accessible to everyone even if that means going back a little to move forward then so be it. Turning off the PA system would be a good start so we can talk rather than being constantly talked at.


About Tony Robb

A life long Blues supporter of 49 years who has seen some light at the end of the tunnel that isn't Mick Malthouse driving a train.


  1. Game Day Experience – defn – shit conjured by some bastard with a sharp suit, limitless lunch account, and a pony tail to detract attention away from the reason for attending on game day (i.e. THE FOOTBALL), by cross-promoting the broadcasting network’s other programme; and to enhance the bank balance of said bastard as well as retinue of televison ‘Stars’ that are paraded out during the afternoon’s ‘entertainment.’ Bastards. Grrr.

  2. Yvette Wroby says

    Ah the memories…a time before the signage just a few years ago, and the constant chatter and engagement. The fans love the game, the kick to kick, all the other experiences you described coming and going, the feeling at the game about the game. Are we just getting old and grumpy too? Have loved the kick to kick.

  3. Ah yes the 80’s sigh.. as a doggie they started off bleak and ended diabolical.. unlike the blues with their 3 flags!
    Lots of good points made Tony. For me personally, i haven’t got too many problems with the game itself but more so the other stuff. All the p.a. noise during the game etc. I mean if some bloke is having a crack at me, how the hell can i engage with him if i can’t even hear what he is bloody well saying#@$%$!!

  4. Tony Robb says

    Yes Yvette and jd
    The endless noise during breaks does impact on the chance to talk with anyone who is not right next to you. It’s invasive and unnecessary. Looking fwd to getting to Melbourne in week or so but not the crap that is secondary to the game

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