‘Captains Picks’ have not been received well in Australia in recent times, just ask Tony Abbott, but it has been widely reported that it is this concept that the AFL believes will help revive AFLX. In an attempt to have more of the games superstars on display, AFLX is expected to be a one night only affair contested by four teams selected ‘school yard style’ by four AFL nominated captains.
Like most of the ideas that emanate from AFL House these days, this has been co-opted from overseas. The last NBA All-Star Game was selected in this manner to some success with LeBron James and Stephen Curry leading teams they selected against one another. So happy were the NBA with how it played out, that this season they are not just keeping the concept but will televise the team selections.
Before the AFL starts slapping themselves on the back for a job well done and prepare for the money that will come from a full house at Marvel Stadium on February 22nd, there are a few important points they need to consider before implementing this change. One is the fact that this feels like further Americanisation of a concept that many fans are already unwilling to sample because it seemed more Stars and Stripes and Apple Pie than Vegemite and Tim Tams. (Not that The Pinch Hitters advocate the eating of Vegemite and Tim Tams together, unless you are into that kind of thing. Who are we to judge.)
Second, if watching their own team play a fledgling game this year wasn’t enough to get people interested, how on earth is the prospect of Team Fyfe playing Team Dangerfield going to? As much as watching the best of the best going head to head sounds good on paper it is nowhere near as interesting to the average football fan as having their team in the contest or there being high stakes. No matter how you package it, four teams selected at random by a group of ever-changing captains will never be able to manufacture that.
How ever do you solve the problems of putting together all-star quality teams, ensure fans have a team to support, and that there are stakes on offer?
Rather than running this stealth campaign to gauge interest in a concept their fans neither asked for or wanted, the best solution is as obvious as the nose on my face. So obvious in fact, that you almost have to respect the AFL for their stubbornness in refusing to countenance it.
State of Origin.
Admittedly it still may not make the AFLX concept palatable to every fan, it sure would make a lot more fans interested than the idea of Team Fyfe v Team Dangerfield. Having invented the concept in the 1970’s and abandoning it like a worn out pair of jocks in the 1990’s, the AFL have almost been spiteful in their disregard to repeated fan calls for its reintroduction. Surely for the kings of compromised outcomes this is the perfect way in which to continue to deny the fans what they really want while forcing something they don’t want down their throats?
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