The AFL may have fallen on its own sword to some extent as scoring in the Toyota 2019 AFL Premiership competition is down this year compared to the same spot, following the first four rounds, in the previous three seasons.
New changes intended to spread the players out and reduce the number of stoppages per game have not had the intended outcome of producing more points.
That sword is a two-edged one, however, as the other edge seems to be supplying close finishes, the so-called “Any Given Sunday” mantra stolen from the NFL, which at a time in the distant past, played all of its games on Sunday.
Close outcomes and upsets make the game interesting. For evidence, just take the 2018 – 2019 NBA season, where the final two games of the 82-game regular season had playoff implications that included which teams would qualify and which would play which in the first round.
We do not have an explanation why goal kicking is down and we are in a rarified atmosphere when we are on the same plane as Hawthorn coach Alastair Clarkson, who told reporters, following the Hawks narrow 74 -69 loss to St. Kilda, “They’re strange games at the minute.
“The game is in a really, really interesting phase and everyone’s trying to work it out. I ain’t got any answers just at the minute and I don’t think many others have either.”
One glance at the ladder supplies the necessary evidence.
With clubs such as Brisbane, Gold Coast and St. Kilda all well within the top eight with identical 3 – 1 records, while pre-season fancies Adelaide, Melbourne and Sydney on the outside, the AFL season may not have many dead rubbers near the conclusion of the home-and-away season.
The run home will now be a war of attrition, with coaches’ strategies based on whether to rest key players for finals or to risk those players for a top-four finish becoming a key consideration.