AFL players have questioned whether on-field congestion is such a bad thing for the viewing public.
As Collingwood ruckman Darren Jolly used his Fairfax column on Monday to express the frustration many players are experiencing over the introduction of a cap on the number of interchanges next season – a move designed to ease congestion – AFL research shows there was an increase in players crowding contests last season.
There were ”regular occurrences of all players squeezed into a 60 metre x 80 metre section of the ground to place pressure on the opposition and generate their next scoring attack”, the AFL found.
A study by the AFL Players Association, however, says players believe congestion isn’t an entirely bad thing.
”There is substantial evidence that the game is in really good shape from a spectacle point of view backed on the information provided by the AFL and feedback from players and coaches,” the AFLPA said in its submission to the Laws of the Game Committee late last year.
”In any case, and particularly given that congestion is not presenting as a significant issue for the game at this time, players query whether some games that are more congested than others doesn’t have a positive impact on the AFL competition by providing a variety of games that fans are exposed to throughout a season.
”In other words, there are also things that fans may like about games that have increased congestion. For example, these games are often ‘great contests’ that highlight the combative nature of our game, producing close scorelines due to the intense pressure of highly contested football.”
Video-based TrakPerformance player density tracking said there had been a ”significant rise” since 2006 in the average number of players within five metres of the ball, and another ”significant increase” between 2011 and 2012.
Last year’s analysis showed there were five players within five metres of the ball 24.8 per cent of the time, up from 24.3 per cent in 2011, while there were between three and 10 players within five metres of the ball 34 per cent of the time, up from 29.9 in 2011.
In a bid to ease congestion, the AFL is set to cap interchange rotations next season, in the hope players fatigue and cannot get to as many contests. This has frustrated the AFLPA and most coaches, as Jolly reaffirmed. ”There’s a reason why we need to rotate as much as we do. It’s because you [AFL] have instructed the umpires to throw the ball up quicker; you’ve shortened the time allowed when kicking for goal; and kicking-in after a minor score.”
The original release of this article first appeared on the website of Hangzhou Night Net.