Dingo’s Rant: Who Needs A Draw?

27 09 2010

Our tame resident Aussie, Dingo, is back for another rant – this time with regard to the foolishness of what happened this weekend in the AFL Grand Final.

The big sporting action from down under this weekend was undeniably the Australian Rules Grand Final. The biggest event on the Australian sporting calendar, it is a game that regularly pulls one hundred thousand plus fans to the MCG. Add to that millions of TV viewers, a week of build up, TV specials, interviews and parades – all culminating in the biggest sporting  finale in the country, all wanting a result. Unfortunately, though, that’s not what happened.

Well not yet anyway – let me explain.  “Aussie rules” is a closely linked game to Irish Gaelic football and follows the same rules as that at the end of normal time. If the scores are even there is no overtime or sudden death, no golden goal or shootout – everyone just packs up and comes back next week. In the Grand Final on Saturday, after the scores finished level, a chorus of boos rang down from the stands as 100,000 fans had just realised they’d spent a far chunk of cash on a ticket for a memorable sporting moment that, well, meant very little. They wanted a result. The players weren’t too happy either, telling interviewers the absurdity of the situation of putting a week of build up, all their physical and mental energy into the final game, and then being told just to come back and do it all again a week later.

As an armchair sports fan I enjoy the big game. I’m not an ardent supporter of Aussie Rules but even i came away feeling short changed. Don’t get me wrong – the game was a thrilling contest – but i like a result. I need to see the joy or anguish on the faces of the warriors who have just finished the battle. All I got out of this game and all I saw was bewilderment.

Of course not all games need an outcome to make them memorable – sometimes a draw is just as important or as exciting. In cricket’s long version, test matches, a draw can mean just as much to a team in a series than a win or a loss. The celebration of teams who fiercely protected their last few wickets, sometimes batting out a day or more to save the game, is testimony to this. The much rarer event of a tied test match can encapsulate this drama even more spectacularly. The two famous tied tests, Australia V West Indies in 1960 and Australia again versus India in 1986, both came down to the final over of the day. With the uncertainty of the outcome, any spectator lucky enough to witness these matches would have come away with a cherished lifelong sporting memory.

Of course in soccer drawn games are a part and parcel of the main league competitions. Goalless draws can be drab and depressing affairs but if your team scraps their way to a late equaliser or hangs on for a much needed draw, the celebrations can be as loud and as warranted as a win. Equally many high scoring draws have gone down as classics of the sport – endlessly replayed on ESPN and SKY television.

In games that require a victor, for example cup competitions, if extra time or sometimes a golden goal can’t separate the two sides, the much lamented penalty shootout ensues. Many a fan complains it’s too much like a lottery, but, does it get any more tense or exciting as you peak out from behind the couch? As you wait to see which of the combatants will become a hero or scapegoat it can often be too much to bear. It is usually during these moments you experience the apogee of your sporting emotions – absolute joy in success or misery in a close, but not close enough, conclusion.

So in the case of the Aussie Rules Grand Final why didn’t they just play extra time?  Is it money gained from extra gate and TV revenue? Is it an old and antiquated ruling that has no place in the modern AFL game? Is it because the athletes didn’t have enough energy left in them? Put that excuse to John Isner and Nicholas Mahut, whose names have gone down in history for fighting out their epic duel at Wimbledon earlier in the year, and they would laugh at you. It lasted 183 games and required 11 hours and 5 minutes of playing time. If fitness was an issue, neither man showed it or complained. In my opinion if the teams cannot be separated by skill levels I say may the fittest win the day.

So let’s call this one a draw. As the old American adage goes, a draw is ‘like kissing your sister – that is if your sister happens to be a grizzly bear and you’ve just wrestled with her for and hour and a half’. This time we’ll just part as friends and come back and play it all again next week…




2 responses

27 09 2010

Does seem a slightly ridiculous thing although in GAA in Ireland it happens frequently and they love it! Perhaps there is a difference there between an amateur and a professional sport and all that goes with that.

If its an issue they should have provided for it you would have thought!

27 09 2010

When I got home from work a little before 1 in the morning, here in the US, I was thrilled to stumble onto the AFL Grand Final on ESPN. The Magpies looked like they had St Kilda by the gonads for most of the game. St Kilda does a fantastic comeback to tie the game…then the 4th quarter ended and the announcers sounded apologetic-like they farted at a funera-saying that there would be a REPLAY next week. I could not believe my eyes and ears-no overtime….REALLY? Everybody knows it’s about money. They will fill the MCG again, but the end result will be anticlimatic…I have to ask if the replay finishes in a draw, will they replay it again? It was just ridiculous.

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