Equivalent exchange is a pretty basic concept. To obtain something, another product of equal value must be sacrificed. It might sound cliché but it is a model which is needed in the AFL. The competition has become abundant in inequities and simply ludicrous ideals and they are driving our incredible game into turmoil.
Take Hawthorn’s predicament with Lance Franklin as an example. If they lose him to free-agency, they will certainly receive band-one compensation. This first band is a pick directly after their first round selection. With their expected success, it basically means that they will receive a pick between 17 and 19. However, there is a chance that this pick could become even lower due to compensation picks given to clubs who finish below them. Let’s take a step back and analyse this situation.
Does the AFL truly expect the football community and Hawthorn Football Club to believe that the player dubbed often by experts as the best player in the competition is only worth a late first round draft pick? It really does need to be asked. Where is this so-called impartiality in our competition that the AFL is constantly preaching to us? If GWS want Franklin’s services, it seems natural that they should be forced to give up pick one. By no means is this an attack on free-agency, but rather an exploitation of a major flaw in the system. Clubs need to be given proper compensation for what they lose. What makes it worse is that if Hawthorn, in an effort to replace the massive void which is left by Franklin brings in a key-position forward from free-agency, their meagre compensation for losing arguably the best player in the competition becomes diluted.
Another area in which the AFL lacks the concept of ‘equivalent exchange’ is the father-son system. The father-son draft concept is absolutely wonderful. It encourages tradition and a sense of communion at a club. However, it does in some cases completely contradict the notion of an equal competition. Take the 2012 draft into consideration. The best player of the pool, Joe Daniher was allowed to be taken with the tenth pick of the draft and a clear top ten selection in Jack Viney was taken in the second round.
In Essendon’s case with Daniher, there was nothing much that could be done, but at least they gave up their largest asset for him. However, for the latter, the premise of this unfairness was that Viney was not considered one of the best two players of the pool. This is completely nonsensical. Why is it that the AFL just sit back and allow this to occur? Viney was a clear top ten selection. Melbourne at one stage were in possession of picks three, four and 13. Does it not make sense for Melbourne, if they want to bring a son of a former great to the club, to be forced to use one of these picks for him? The current system did not allow this to occur at the time, thus a change is desperately needed.
It is sickening that injustices such as certain cases in the father-son system and free agency system are simply brushed over. If the AFL wants to run an equal game, a concept not too dissimilar to ‘equivalent exchange’ is necessary because as supporters of the sport, a fairly run competition is the only thing that we can ask for.