Twitter addicts and fans alike were quick to jump on the ‘NBA like’ All-Star bandwagon, licking their lips at the thoughts of the most talented players from all states combining forces, whilst experts welcomed the idea of an AFL State of Origin in which rivalries are strong and present.
The foundations of both these ideas are lively starting points, although as most journalists and experts have seemingly neglected, they are simply not applicable to our mighty game - at least as it exists today.
There are two aspects of this issue which separate the AFL, the National Rugby League and the NBA; boiling down to the inevitable factor of cash-flow and revenue generated from the event, accompanied with the individual demands of each sport .
Like the rest of the sport junkies in the country, I would love to see the AFL superstars in an All-Star match as they play in the NBA - but whether it be East vs. West or the schoolyard captain’s choices - I suggest Tweeters take a peek at the prices of these epic spectacles before they get too excited.
Most AFL supporters kick up a fuss in paying five dollars for a pie with sauce, let alone paying a minimum of $400US to sit amongst the rowdy die-hards in the top tiers at a NBA All-Stars match.
And no, making it cheaper is not the answer, as it is the incentive that draws the players to do their absolute best to get selected in the All-Stars team which is selected by the fans and experts of the NBA – as a slight pay-check deduction has the potential to cause ‘miscellaneous’ injuries and illnesses.
Not only that, it is the players’ pride and joy, an All-Australian comparison that forever boosts their credentials as established players of the game.
On the other end of the spectrum, the instinctive passion that surrounds State of Origin rugby cannot be implemented over night, nor can the attraction that caused over 2.5 million metropolitan viewers to tune into game one of the series – a figure which was approximately equal to the 2011 AFL grand final audience.
It is no secret that both these formats are what fans, players and most importantly the money-makers look forward to each season, and it is the never-ending cycle that the AFL and the Players Association need to create from scratch.
Speaking on Access all Areas on AFL.com.au, current Sydney Swans coach John Longmire made it clear that coaches won’t embrace the concept of forfeiting their best play-makers before or during the season.
AFL legend Leigh Matthews spoke on the same program of the contradiction of the players who proposed the All-Stars match to be played before the start of the season.
"The game is so brutal we can’t play this much footy, it’s killing us," Matthews said of the players, whilst Longmire admitted it was the demands of the game that prevented him from approving the concept, and that the proposed time of the beginning of the season wouldn’t be favourable from a coaching perspective.
“It’s one of the most taxing games in the world,” Longmire said.
“It’s a risky concept, we want out players available for our games and personally I wouldn’t be in favour of it as it’s a critical time of the year.”
These are thoughts that could rub off onto some players who are more determined to perform for their clubs – and as mentioned earlier – could entice them to come up with lame excuses to get out of such duties.
This further relays the pressure onto the AFL and the Players Association to develop a game that players want to play in, coaches want to be in charge of and one that demands fans to attend or watch the game on television.
I’m not sure if combining with State Leagues or the under-18 national carnival, a Victoria versus South Australia State of Origin bout, or whether in fact the All-Stars match is the answer – but I’m certain the recent coverage of this topic is warranted and that there is a definitive answer.
“As a player I would have no interest, as a coach I would certainly have no interest and as a fan I have no interest,” Matthews went on to say.
His wise yet negative words should be an eye opener to all of those involved in the development of representative football in the AFL, provoking them to build on the concepts that NBA and NRL fans cherish and love and create something that players, coaches, supporters and executives can only dream of being involved in.