Yesterday on SEN, Geelong Brownlow Medallist and President of the AFL Players’ Association, Patrick Dangerfield, was asked about the increasing injury rates across the competition in the last 12 months and how he would solve the problem.
Here is his solution.
“Length of the pre-season, I think a bit of work needs to be done around it,” Dangerfield said on SEN Mornings with Sam McClure.
“We’ve got the longest pre-season in world sports. I think at some stage we’ll see senior players returning in January and the players one to four years, there’d be some sort of training camp.
“To engage pre-season at the moment, you return for two weeks then you’ve got a three-week Christmas break and then you’re back to training, it’s a little bit untidy.
“I think eventually we’ll get to a stage where it would be a build-up over eight weeks in that January period.”
So, his solution is to give the players until January off and to shorten the pre-season to only eight weeks.
Firstly, there is absolutely no evidence that a shorter pre-season will decrease injury rates.
That was really strange for him to say the way to fix the increasing injury rates is to shorten the pre-season - that's not even logical.
The modern AFL player already gets far too much downtime and holidays.
Perhaps that’s why we are seeing some players with too much time on their hands struggling with gambling addiction.
What full-time job, where the average wage is $370,000 per year, will grant you 12 weeks holiday per year, and a mandatory one and a half days off per week? Sounds good doesn’t it!
Can you imagine tennis superstar Rafael Nadal taking 12 weeks holiday per year? He’d be lucky to take two days off.
I know for a fact Australia’s elite marathon runners train 365 days per year, including Christmas day. And some of them don’t earn a single cent.
What about Kyle Chalmers in the pool? You reckon he’s sitting on an overseas beach for 12 weeks of the year.
Dangerfield will counter by arguing that the players will follow their own program and keep in shape on their holidays.
How’d that go for former Gold Coast captain Steven May as he was lambasted by his new coach Simon Goodwin for turning up overweight and unfit in pre-season - a move that has completely derailed his and Melbourne's season.
Or what about the 2018 Adelaide side who admitted they fronted for pre-season out of shape with their season being subsequently ruined by soft tissue injuries.
If Dangerfield thinks that eight weeks is enough to physically prepare 45 players to play the hardest and most dynamic sport in the world, he is kidding himself.
Good luck to the coaches trying to embed new game plans and techniques into the raw young brains of players who have come straight out of high school and into an AFL system.
And if you thought modern goal kicking couldn’t get any worse, imagine how bad it would be under Dangerfield’s theory of a two month pre-season.
The modern AFL player has never earnt more money yet trained so little.
And yes, I do find it ironic that Dangerfield and the game’s best players are happy to play a ‘Mickey Mouse’ AFLX competition yet want to shorten the pre-season.
There must have been some good dollars involved.
In a week where Rafael Nadal will try and slug it out over five sets times seven matches to win another Wimbledon championship and when that’s done he’ll wake up and train like he does for the rest of the year, the AFLPA president is complaining about the already short pre-season being too long.