If nothing else, the AFL’s decision to institute a bye round between the end of the home and away season was good for spurring controversy and commentary, if nothing else, and AFL boss Gillon McLachlan has added fuel to the flames by suggesting this year’s experiment could have a redux next year.
Opinions are widely divided. Coaches and players sometimes appreciate the extra time to allow bruises and scrapes to heal, and to hone game strategies specifically for the upcoming opponent.
At other times, there is a falloff in effectiveness as the routine of the season is disrupted.
There is more than some precedent for this opinion. In the NFL, top-seeded playoff teams get a bye in the first round of the playoffs while the lower ranked teams vie for the privilege of moving ahead. Many of these sitting top-ranked teams have made an unceremonious first-round exit over the course of the years since the NFL expanded the playoffs to prolong the season and enrich their coffers.
AFL fans might express an entirely different opinion in terms of the withdrawal pangs they suffer as the result of a weekend of no footy.
McLachlan cites as his chief arguments in favour of the bye the extra attention given to the Legends game and the women’s league.