Debate has raged about the state of the game in recent weeks. The game has become bogged down in repetitive stoppages and has experts calling on the AFL to implement the nuclear option to fix the game. This week on FoxFooty Gerard Whateley lead a panel of experts Gerard Healy, Mick Malthouse, David King and Adrian Anderson on their solutions to fix our game. Here are 4 suggestions that have been mentioned during this debate.
1) Reducing interchange bench rotations down from 120 to 80, enforcing a 4 minute closed gate and retain the substitute rule.
Reducing the interchange cap down from its present 120 seems to be a widely accepted. The number proposed is 80 and this is a number I agree with for the interim.
I also raise the question of closing the interchange bench for the first 4 minutes of each quarter unless a player is being assisted of the ground due to injury. This eliminates the meaningless rotations that seem to be occurring 90 seconds into each quarter.
However many are talking as if the removal of the substitute rule will follow. I was strongly opposed to this rule when it was introduced, however its significance has grown substantially since its introduction. Over the past few years the AFL has placed a greater emphasis on concussion and its impact on the player. By removing the safeguard of the substitute you risk players and medical staff needing to make an infinitely more difficult decision to remove a player from the game. The substitute rule allows players to remove the fear of letting their team down and removes the handicap of having 4 on 3 rotating from the bench.
2) Removing the throw in from a boundary line contest.
David King raised this suggestion during the Round Table discussion and it is one that has merit. His suggestion is that the ball is given against the team that touched it last, similar to Basketball and Soccer. However inside the 50 meter arc the ball is thrown in. I like this suggestion and believe it has great merit. I’d like to extend his suggesstion and include inside 50’s and remove the throw in completely. People argue this would allow teams to have shots for goal from inside 50. I disagree and believe with this one suggestion this is prevented. In Basketball a player must in-ball (pass) the ball before it can be shot. Doing this would mean a player would have to pass the ball to a teammate before having a shot at goal.
3) Reducing the amount of players on field from 18 to 16
By removing the two wingman from each team you reduce the infield congestion from 36 to 32 and create greater space on the field. While this may seem radical the VFA from 1959-1992 played with 16 a side. The VFL itself originally had 20 players aside reducing to 18 in 1899. The reason was to allow players greater freedom on the field.
4) Reducing quarter length and stoppage times and the shot clock
The time required to watch and attend an AFL game has increased in a modern world where individuals and families are increasingly time poor. With travel and seating individuals can spend most of the day at the football, a luxury many can’t sustain. Reducing the quarters by 2:30 to a length of 17:30 reduces 10 minutes of actual game time and potentially as much as 16-17 minutes to the length of a game. Another suggestion is to place a shot clock on a player going for goal from the moment he marks the ball. Players meandering back for their run up and waiting for an umpire to call 15 seconds remaining is wasting substantial game time.