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Unwatchable AFL slumping to record lows
Unwatchable AFL slumping to record lows
9.59PM  21-4-2014

There is nothing like a Geelong-Hawthorn classic to paper over what have been almost unwatchable games this season, and the numbers are staggering.

Even a television network that paid megabucks to broadcast the game was wondering how it had become so unwatchable.
A rare credit to Seven's Saturday night team, who seemed to be wondering what they were watching during a three-goal second quarter between Essendon and St Kilda.

Even they were questioning if fans would attend games should they continue to be played with keeping possession seemingly more important than kicking goals.

While there have been exceptions – a Geelong-Hawthorn clash the highlight once more – several games this season have been hard to watch.

Chip sideways, chip backwards, handball, chip sideways and all without making any ground.

A sloppy turnover follows, 30 players are attracted to the ball and 10 consecutive stoppages – during which the ball bounces around madly and little can be seen from even the best seats in the house – come next.

And the numbers are staggering, albeit with a small sample size this season – five rounds in.

Teams are averaging 86.37 points per game – the lowest number since 1968 (81.97).

That should lead probably lead to closer games.

But the average winning margin of 39.7 – dragged down in round five – ranks it eighth highest in the game's history.


Expansion teams cannot be blamed, given Greater Western Sydney and Gold Coast are stronger than they have been in their short histories.

Instead, defensive mindsets and unwillingness to take chances are affecting the game in a big way.

The obsession with keeping possession cannot be allowed to replace natural attacking flair.

Trying to mimic the premiers – or slightly improve their game plan – has been common, but coaches should look elsewhere.

Very few teams use the ball as aggressively and as well as the likes of Hawthorn and Geelong on a consistent basis.

Some can see the new style as a battle in the coaches' box as they look to tactically outsmart each other.

Solutions have been floated, including introducing rules to keep players in particular zones during stoppages.

But let the game evolve – it will again.

Until then, sit back and enjoy the grind.

 
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