Well, a long summer of cricket draws to an end and, as ever, the footy season fast approaches. I find myself experiencing a strange mix of expectation, hope and dread. I’ve loved footy for as long as I can remember, and the lengthy cricket season and a self-imposed ban from football media after the Draft should find me invigorated for the season ahead. Weighing over me leading into this season are some of the strong feelings I had last year. The sheer mind numbing exhaustion I felt watching my beloved game during the first half of the 2014 season was overwhelming, and resulted in me writing Fun And Games.
This was partially in response to an excellent article by Rohan Connolly where he contended that fans were disenfranchised from the game by the AFL’s infamous remodelling of its ticketing system and daft scheduling. In my piece, I was basically stating, with a significant level of frustration and pain, that there were so many things wrong with how the game was being administered by the AFL that the most fundamental and major aspect of what the fan was aggrieved about was being overlooked.
That being? The game had become boring.
I was demanding a change to the interchange restrictions: cutting it from 120 per game to 60, or even fewer. I stand by this, and hope that further restrictions to the interchange occur sooner rather than later. I believe it is urgently required, but the point of what I am trying to get at here is that we will soon find out.
There is an oft and incorrectly used saying that states “the proof is in the pudding”. Every time I hear this it amuses me. What is meant is: “the proof of the pudding is in the eating”. Literal meaning? You don’t know how good the pudding is until you’ve eaten it. Intended meaning? You don’t know how good anything is until you’ve tried it.
The footy season approaches and I am scared that, despite some Port Adelaide inspired improvement to the aesthetic appeal of the game in the later stages of the season, it’ll be just as boring and unwatchable as last year.
There is basically no discernible change to the rules of the actual game from last year. We have heard and read a great deal about the scheduling of games in more family friendly timeslots, and ticket prices, and food prices. They’ve even gone to some trouble to tell us that the at-ground viewing experience will be enhanced by all kinds of technology and entertainment, which was the focus of a whole other article in 2013 (What Is That God-awful Noise?)
All this effort to fix the periphery problems, even trying to implement unwanted and annoying “entertainment” at an event that is meant to be, in and of itself, entertainment, but nothing to actually improve the game itself.
Yes, I am scared that what will meet the eye come this upcoming weekend is yet more congestion. Huge crushes of players in less than one half of the ground, ball up after ball up, players that break free with no-where to go or no-one to kick to, key forwards who run up to the half back line and have more interest in defensive pressure than taking marks and kicking goals. I don’t want Paul Roos to stop Jeremy Howe from taking speckies. I don’t want anyone to stop anyone from taking hangers.
I want to watch a game of footy and have it make sense. I want it to look like the game that I play on the weekend, except played by unbelievable players. I want to see players strut their stuff and do things that I can only imagine until I see it on my screen or at the game. Prices of tickets and food, and family friendly scheduling, and even entertainment is only going to be worth anything if the footy is worth watching.
I am considerably affected by the most recent couple of seasons being worse than underwhelming. I should be looking forward to the season that will so soon be upon us, and I can’t shake these concerns that I’ll be met by more of the same. Hopefully, Thursday comes around and all of these concerns have been for nothing, and the footy is as exhilarating as it was when I loved it and looked forward to it.
The AFL sat on its hands re the actual footy at the end of last season, so hopefully the competition has been impacted by Port Adelaide’s style of play, and we will see some more exciting footy. Hope: that is all I have.
Anyway, if the proof of the pudding is in the eating, hopefully on Thursday night it is nice and moist and leaving me wanting more.