Trade Week and Free Agency downunder

The World Cup is interesting, the Olympics were interesting this year, the American elections are as dull as dishwater this time round, English football is boring, the rugby is usually interesting and the Trade Week downunder is also interesting, so much so that yesterday, yours truly was moved to comment on Chris Dawes at The Age.

No, it’s not just the feminists who attract comment.  ;-)

This year, the issue of free agency of players has arisen.   In professional sport, including AFL. the days of career loyalty to one club are long gone.   Days were when supporters lived and breathed their team [Golden Gordon] and players expected they’d stay at one club or even that the club would stay put.

I remember one player for a team, Footscray – think Royal was his name – who said that they were expected to have total loyalty to the club but the club could show zero loyalty to them or to the fans.

And so:

Essendon great and AFL Players Association board member Simon Madden said in the past, players were treated like chattels during the trade period, with no say over their careers. ”You’ll find that most players want to play for the one club.”

Not the entire picture.   Now players, in the interests of setting themselves up financially for life, are swapping clubs at the drop of a hat.   So the loyalty thing has gone full circle.

Premiership coach Paul Roos “was alarmed about the volume and ease of player movement, declaring the start of free agency ”a sad day for football” “. Carlton captain and dual Brownlow medallist Chris Judd said he was encouraged by the amount of control that free agency had given players over their careers.

There needs to be a happy medium somewhere inbetween. Geelong’s football manager, Neil Balme, was speaking of the club’s prospects next year and how they might have to trade this player to get this draft pick or that compensation. I wonder how the players who’d trained for and wished to stay at the club felt about that.

Sure the clubs have to select the best available and go to lengths to get that – see this vid – but surely there’s a point, once a player is accepted, that he is then onboard and has a certain time to fit in and shape up. When specialist coaches have fixed this kicking problem or that passing issue, many hours have been put in, then the football department simply trades that player away to fit under a salary cap – well one wonders.

Fans certainly don’t like it.  This article shows the difficulty of the issue.

Now if you read that, it’s clear that the problems are induced by the AFL itself, which decides how many of this type or that type of player clubs can field.   Personally, I think that’s wrong and clubs should be free to run whom they want.

The reasoning of the governing body is to even up the competition, so that the same top clubs don’t keep winning flags.   This is remarkably like social engineering and mediocritizing society, trying to get it to fit a Procrustean norm.   And if this is the prime directive, then it doesn’t even seem to be working.

A lowly club, Port Adelaide, has been stripped of many good players this year and even a potential coach, which has left a struggling club almost teetering on the brink.   So it’s another example of when a central body tries to legislate for equalityand it produces the opposite effect.

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