Putting the ‘national’ in Australian Rules Football
By Kayla Voss
If there is one thing this AFL season has taught us, it is that the AFL can survive without Victoria.
In fact, the AFL has proved its adaptability in the strangest of circumstances by taking the game out of its usual ‘hub’. Naturally, the VFL is the reason football is predominately played in Victoria during normal AFL seasons. However, COVID has created recurring conversations of Victoria’s main role, ultimately debating how the AFL should operate in future.
The AFL is the Australian Football League. In other words, no longer does the game fall under the Victorian Football League (VFL), but rather is a national competition. Obviously, there are reasons for why Victoria is the main stage for the game; out of eighteen teams, ten are Victorian based teams. Over the years, more interstate teams have joined the league, with GWS being the most recent in 2012. The number of teams located in
Victoria is a strong argument for why the home and away rounds can have up to five games in Victoria per round. However, the argument is not to move or relocate these teams, but rather to recognise other states for big AFL nights like the Brownlow, the NAB draft and, of course, the Grand Final.
Daniel Andrews, the premier of Victoria, only emphasised the unchanging nature of the game and the outdated view of Victoria as AFL’s central hub. Last Friday, Mr Andrews told press that he is looking for compensation from the AFL in the future due to the expectation that the Grand Final will be hosted interstate this year. This statement is ridiculous for a number of reasons. In terms of COVID, he should be more focused on taking care of Victorians and eradicating the virus. In terms of the AFL, the idea that the AFL owes Victoria, even though the Grand Final is already contracted to be held at the MCG until 2057, is preposterous.
Understandably, Victoria will lose a lot of economic compensation because of the AFL Grand Final’s revenue. Yet, considering Victoria hosts the event every year, he is hardly in a position to argue this year’s loss. Unfortunately, the loss of money and jobs is a part of 2020, and we have all been affected by the virus one way or another.
This year’s Grand Final will be hosted in any state other than Victoria, which should be viewed as an opportunity rather than a loss. Not only should it be considered an opportunity for another state, but also an opportunity for the future of the game. It is not a new argument: whether or not the AFL Grand Final should be on a rotational interstate basis. However, this year has certainly emphasised why it would be brilliant for the evolution of the game.
Without a reason, other states will not invest in an event as big as the AFL Grand Final. This is the issue.
Ultimately, the argument always comes back to how many people will be there to witness one of the events of the year. The MCG houses 100,000 people. An exceptional stage for any event. Of course the biggest event in the AFL calendar should be played in front of as many people as possible.
However, the only reason the MCG is the ultimate stage is because every other state has never had reason to invest in a stadium of the same stature. If the AFL presented a contract for the Grand Final to be hosted around Australia, it would certainly provide state governments a solid reason to invest in the event.
It is the event that brings people from around the country together. It is the roar of the crowd and the excitement of the day. Every state should have the opportunity to experience this. Australian Rules Football is a national sport, loved by so many around the country. It seems only fitting for fans from all states to enjoy the big day.
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