James has thrown down the gauntlet on my previous post. What should the AFL do instead of its biased and gamable draft system?
The answer – move to a handicap system!
Hang on. Give this a go. It works for the Melbourne Cup. It works for the Stawell Gift. It could work for the AFL.
First, get rid of the draft pick rubbish – just have a salary cap (if you must. As a Carlton supporter I reminisce about the good old days when you could just buy a premiership team).
Second, each team gets a handicap rating at the beginning of the season. The rating is based on a random choice of 16 rounds from the previous year (to avoid tanking because you do not know which rounds will count to the handicappers). The handicappers set a ‘starting score’ for each team. The highest ranked team (last years premiers) start on zero. The second team from last year might start on 6 points, etc. Last year’s wooden spooners might start on, say, 30 points. The aim, as with all handicap systems, is to make each team ‘even’ in terms of chances of winning.
The handicap applies for each home-and-away-round. So if team A has a handicap of say 8 points and team B has a handicap of 20 points then a home-and-away game between teams A and B would start with team A at ‘zero’ but with team B already having 12 points or the equivalent of two goals on the score board. Given that ‘head start’ there would be an even chance of either team winning.
This handicap system achieves the AFL’s objectives of an even competition every year. All fans will want to support their team – even if it came last the previous year, it could come first this year because of the handicap system. No more waiting for those ‘young recruits’ to mature.
And every home-and-away clash becomes a potential tight contest. Imagine the thrill to see if, say, Geelong, can chase down the 30 point lead that Melbourne starts the match with!
So James – a well tested approach from other sports could work for the AFL.
The handicap would be fixed through the season rather than updated on a match by match basis. Updating would confuse the Collingwood fans.
What about the finals? Haven’t worked that out yet. And, as a Carlton supporter, I have to have something to keep me busy until the season finishes and puts us out of our injury-ridden misery.