With the advent of the new Fox Footy channel, I got to thinking about footy, and Australian top tier sports, and my belief that there are 2 main flaws with every top tier sporting commission in Australia, which is depriving todays supporters of something fundamental to the sport. Indeed the sports are lessened considerably by these omissions.
The first flaw is the lack of promotion and relegation to and from the top leagues in Australia. What is the cost of finishing last in the league in top tier Australian sport? Not a lot really, a bit of embarrassment, a ribbing from your mates, but not a lot else. In fact it can be argued that due to the draft system in sports like AFL, much like the NFL in the USA, that finishing bottom is better for your team than finishing higher, the Melbourne Demons for some reason spring to mind when the thought of tanking occurs.
But the main flaw with selling your sports soul to broadcasters, is that when you go all in like top tier Australian sports have, the drama of the final day is lost. With all the matches being scheduled so that one broadcaster can show ‘every match, every round, siren to siren’ there is no room for the drama of a final day kick off where all matches start at the same time, and any permutation can be played out, and us fans can go from anguish to heartbreak to elation despite what occurs on the field of battle our team is fighting on.
Admittedly the way that the competitions are set up means that no matter what, the major prize is never given out on the final day of the league season, what with the finals knockout still format, culminating in the Grand Final. And that is etched on the psyche of every Australian sports follower, and should not be changed, as it brings a drama all of it’s own which enriches the experience as a fan.
Take this scenario – Essendon and Hawthorn are in 8th and 9th going into the final round of the home and away season of the NFL. Both are level on points and Hawthorn need to win by 3 more goals than Essendon do to overtake them on differential. In as it stands today, Essendon would probably have played on Friday night, won their match. The fans would have returned from the ground. and assuming the Hawks play on the Saturday afternoon, and win but come up short by by 1 goal, although there is drama there, at least to my mind it is lessened as the 2 facets of the outcome are not together. The Essendon fans did not get a chance to celebrate making the finals, and both sets of fans missed out on the drama of splitting attention between what’s happening on the ground in front of you, and what’s going on in the other game.
Well that’s my 2c on it.