If it’s one thing that’s evident, it’s that our game is no longer what it used to be. There are many new and introduced elements from other codes that we as a collective must begin to come to terms with.
International football, or soccer as many of the majority like referring to it, is not the greatest influence to our game’s culture and processes. The influence is from one of our closer allies in the United States.
One of the effects of globalization is the ability to be constantly aware of the trends that exist beyond our shores. Interconnectivity through the internet allows many to understand the cultural sporting wasteland of others, and by no means is a bad thing at all. However, some of the certain aspects of American sport that have crept into our game do not reflect the culture that we’ve come to build.
One must also remember that this is not an argument against American sporting ethos, but we just seem to be adapting the more negative concepts from them, rather than positive ones.
The identification of where such cultural saturation is coming from needs to be understood first. In the era of technology, sport can be broadcast over the internet or pay television at any hour of the day, allowing many to view their favourite international sports at the click of a button. Kids are now growing up with no longer their favourite AFL team, but baseball team and football team. That’s completely fine, and if isn’t already, should be encouraged to broaden sporting horizons.
This new generation contains many in a diverse age group, from those being just out of primary school, to those old enough who are currently playing at AFL level and are actively cheering on their sports sides on from Twitter. This demographic is tech savvy, up to date and plugged into nearly all aspects of what occurs in their favourite sport.
The AFL is aware of this, and now knows it knows it has a new marketing angle to shoot with, but also has new sports to compete against for attention. However, good intentions (as with many AFL projects) lead us down the primrose path to darkness and we need be to careful with what we bring into our game.
The branding of the AFL snapback hat screams of ‘cultural wannabe’. Not only does it shamelessly steal a foreign concept, but attempts to apply it to the way we wear our sporting attire. A snapback is a fashion statement, whereas when wear our scarves and jumpers with our team’s colours, it’s out of sincere fanaticism.
Another adopted failure is the commercialisation of free agency and trade week, which has ballooned out to an unnecessary amount of time. It has copped criticism from fans and those in the industry alike who are exhausted with the drawn-out process. Include the Gillette sponsorship and it smells badly of a cheap American import that the AFL believed that they could manufacture excitement for.
Considering most player management firms and clubs work on a no comment policy, building up hype around an event which is done mostly in secret to keep player salaries private is a complete waste of time. American sports stars have their salaries on show, whereas a culture of conservatism in the disclosure of player pay packages exists on our shores.
Enough of what we shouldn’t adopt from American sports, and more of what we should be emulating.
Draft coverage is still light years behind the Yanks, bar the few shining lights in Emma Quayle and the work of the TAC Cup Future Stars team. The draft coverage only becomes big only during the Under 18 Championships and once the season proper is done. College sports in the US are broadcast with hundreds of experts following and documenting an entire season worth of stats and info, in order to best determine where the best talent is headed.
Doing a deal to get the TAC Cup broadcast would be difficult, but would make it easier for footy enthusiasts to get a better look at the talent pool. It would be a great change, instead of having to rely on second or third-hand info and would clear up the many misconceptions that are made about the drafting process to the general public.
There are aspects of how American sport is done that would be of benefit to our game, but we must choose wisely which ones are worth our time of day. There are no issues in borrowing, but there must be a warning that one size does not truly fit all.