Twilight Grand FInals and 17-5 fixtures: How much is enough?

Sufficiency, an intriguing concept. What is ‘enough’ to get by in life? My own sense of sufficiency is one of the many reasons why I am not running the world or anything much else for that matter. It is also a key precept of Egalitarianism, although somewhat less interested in my personal access to sufficiently good wine and the occasional interstate trip. We start at the same first principle.

Sufficiency can rationalize egalitarian transfers of resources from better off to worse off persons when such transfers would increase the total number of people who ever achieve sufficiency. (Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy)

Something the AFL is quite keen on at times – all salary caps and luxury taxes. But how much is enough?

A twilight Grand Final

A twilight Grand Final is “inevitable” says Gillon McLachlan. “More and more people think it’s a chance to enhance the event”. A bit later “and clearly it would have an impact on television”. The Commission will continue to consider it.

Margaret Thatcher might well ask (despite a small mortality issue) who these people are and precisely how many of them don’t work in TV?

What proportion of footy fans actually favour a twilight Grand Final? Anecdote suggests very few. If your team is playing, the Grand Final day wait is long enough as it is. If you’re lucky enough to win you want some time to celebrate; to savour. To go home and watch a replay on the TV or drop the clutch down the main drag with your scarf hanging out the window. Not to rush the family straight to bed. Not to dodge the dangerously drunk with several additional drinking hours under their belts. But more people will watch on TV, so that’s sufficient. It’s possibly meaningful to someone.

The 17-5 draw

In the last week the 17-5 fixture has been on the table too. A working group will be set up to consider models, apparently.

Who does this game belong to and who belongs to it?

For those not familiar, the 17-5 draw was floated by McLachlan to create more meaningful end of minor round games. This would, allegedly, decrease the likelihood teams would rest fit players in Round 23. It freezes the draw after Round 17 – after every team has played each other once. Then it divides the ladder into 1-6, 7-12, and 13-18. 1-6 play each other again for ladder position. 7-12 play each other again for the last two finals positions and 13-18 play each other again for the top draft pick.

The problems with this idea are many and varied – teams have jumped from 13th to 8th post-Round 17 in the past; most recently Richmond in 2014. Teams have gone from 7th to inside the top two in that time; most recently Geelong this year. Apparently the AFL isn’t interested in fairy tale runs anymore. Most significantly, in what way does this address the issue? It’s already been knocked on the head with the post Round 23 bye. A bit like using a rainbow to crack a walnut; an unsuitable tool, particularly when you’re not sure if you want a walnut.

Accounts and Accountability

The AFL Commission is the self-stated ‘keeper of the code’; the body responsible for the game of Australian Rules Football. The Chief Executive Officer is a Commissioner in his own right with responsibility for the operation of the AFL. For the CEO there is no sense of subservience beyond the vote of the majority. Said majority is elected by the AFL clubs; those financially dependent on the operation of the AFL. That’s probably as much as you need to know about the accountability of our game’s operations. A reasonable distance from the Gettysburgian idea of of, by and for the people.

Whose job is it to protect the good of the game as a whole, separate from the financial interests of the AFL? Who decides how much is enough?

In the case of the Grand Final the boss has already said it is going to happen. The appropriate decision making function of the Commission appears to have been reduced to deciding when. In the case of the fixture, a working group will be set up but the boss has already repeatedly stated his preference… just leaves me (or Tim Rogers in this case) with one question:

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About Dave Brown

Upholding the honour of the colony. "Play up Norwoods!"


  1. Its only inevitable because Gillon says it is. When Demetriou was CEO he categorically stated it was not, so it wasnt .Should Gillon says it is not, then it wont be. Once changed it will never be undone. Seeing the GF is already the biggest rating tv show of the year, then what is the benefit? Ch7 will hardly walk away from the footy if the AFL keep it as it is, besides it is only 4 hours out of a whole year.

  2. Peter Clark says

    Hear Hear!! Twilight /night GF = AFL greed. Look after the true fans, including the young kids, at home. Bugger off all who would tinker with a great tradition of the GF at the ‘G’ on a Saturday arvo.

  3. Mark Duffett says

    I agree with most of this, but feel compelled to rise to the defence of the 17-5 concept. For mine, the best rationale for this is not the avoidance of dead rubbers, but rather that it’s more likely to be fairer, with seedings set after all have played each other once. Of the end season table jump examples cited, how much of a contribution was an easy run home created by the playing of lower teams for a second time?

  4. John Butler says

    When your argument is unpersuasive, just declare it inevitable. This is the way of those who feel themselves unaccountable..

    Excellent points well made, David.

  5. Malcolm Ashwood says

    Dave couldn’t agree more if it was actually a game and for the benefit of all and not a multi million dollar business there would obviously be a team in tassy for one every team would play each other once
    just more and more things where the majority of us hate the way the game in general is headed and the masses are not listened to or cared about

  6. Whatever we now make of Fonzie Demetriou, he did stand firm on the daytime slot for our grand final.

    Again we witness the AFL ignoring its custodial responsibilities.

    Thanks Dave.

  7. 17/5 will make for a much fairer fixture.

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