AFL Tanking Debate

The snooze button came off when sacked Melbourne coach, Dean Bailey, held a press conference on Monday.

"I had no hesitation at all in the first two years of ensuring this club was well placed for draft picks," Bailey said.

"I was asked to do the best thing by the Melbourne Football Club, and I did it."

To the majority of AFL fans, this came as a sensible comment. An admission of a commonplace practice - tanking. Finally, talk from a coach untarnished by AFL-realpolitik.

An assistant coach, Tony Liberatore, had previously spoken of his clear belief that Carlton tanked in 2007. This was duly downplayed & denied - rehashed as bitterness at leaving the club the year after. Snooze button on.

The VFL draft came into full force in 1986. A toned down version was present from 1981. The contentious priority pick rule was introduced in 1993.

I vividly recall barracking against Hawthorn in 2004 (4 wins) & 2005 (5 wins). It was an empty feeling being at the MCG. Numbing. 2005 was exceptionally pointless. One less win would have offered the daft priority pick.

If incentive is to be accepted as the major motivation in many fields - it behooves the denier to enter into dreary semantics in order to side-track the conversation. There is no other recourse. This would be a fair summation of the official debate to this point.

It has taken 30 years to overcome stubborn, head in the sand denial. 25 years if one wishes to be finicky, in a reprisal of said behaviour. This may be an optimistic statement in itself. An AFL 'investigation' has 'uncovered' that players were utilised "out of their position as part of their development" and "they allowed senior players to leave the club and get draft picks in return". This is a pathetic re-mapping of Dean Bailey's comments. To expect more would be folly. 

The reasons for the AFL body refusing to acknowledge such an obvious reality are clear. The sports betting market. Protecting their ar$es, and the money made from the percentage of funds they legally skim from every bet made.

The Solution :

Firstly, get rid of the priority pick altogether. It is moronic for the AFL not to concede this point. It was ill-thought and has well outlived any usefulness it may have offered.

This should be done in 2 or 3 years time. Announced at this season's end.

Second, a draft lottery is only a partial solution. In an intentionally compromised system, it is a reasonable step. Unlike the NBA, do not offer the lowest finisher a greater chance of pick #1. Offer the bottom 4 or 6 an equal chance ie 25% or 17%

This will fix most of the problems. Tanking would still exist when a team was concerned about finishing fifth or seventh last.

Third, remove all betting on teams that are in tank contests. This should be forced on the AFL. Suddenly, they would then jump to fix the problem. (Haha, again incentive being the main motivator)

Lastly - do not place the blame at the feet of clubs/club administrators/club coaches. Accept that stupid rules produce stupid outcomes.

Aug 13 2011

Andrew Demetriou again denies the existence of tanking. Proposes life bans. What an absolute joke. This guy is made to look a fool on certain issues. Here's a very simple idea : Stop treating the fans of AFL as idiots. That would go a long way..... sigh

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