Dear Gods of Football,
May my home-team win, may my rivals falter, and may we never hear the words 'James Hird' again.
Last night's announcement from the AFL caps off a months-long saga around the Essendon Football Club, culminating with large fines, and their coach being banned for 12 months. As a non-football player who doesn't watch the AFL at all, I am thrilled that I won't hear about this again. Asides from the inevitable whinging and commiserating that will take place over the next few days, this should be the end of it.
Can I get an 'Amen?' Honestly, this saga has just gone on too long, with no new content in the news. Speculation has been rife, and there have been nearly daily comments from the club, the AFL, or from observers, which somehow found their way into our newsrooms as 'newsworthy!'
You can read the story (if you care) Here, here, and here. (Caution: all three have auto-playing videos.)
I don't really care what penalties are handed down. The club can afford to pay just about anything, and Hird won't be paying his fines anyway.
My main concern is, of all things, premiership points. Why? Because.
My team has no chance of finals, although there was at some point a mathematical possibility that we could get in, requiring us to win by 60 points, another team to lose by 83 points, Essendon to lose all premiership points, and other games to go in our favour. Yeah right.
I listened to Andrew Demetriou on Radio National this morning, as he explained why the Bombers hadn't been stripped of their premiership points. Again, not that I care, but it seemed to me to be a cop-out. He explained that it was the simplest thing to do, because Essendon weren't contesting the finals, and it would be too hard to take the points away.
In this modern, technological day and age, it is too hard to fiddle some numbers to make the little box under 'Points' display a big fat zero?
He explained that it was too hard to decide what to do with the points. Should they redistribute them? Should they turn each 'win' into a 'loss' and give the points to the teams that lost? What about percentages? It was just the simplest thing to do not to touch the points. Path of least resistance.
Given that Essendon weren't in the finals, no one cares, but imagine if they had been sitting in 8th, or even 4th. that sort of question would have to have been answered, and teams below them would have been clamoring for the points. Imagine if number 9 had lost to the bombers twice, and number 8, only 4 points above, had beaten them both times. The whole game could have changed!
And, on that unresolved note, we pray that this ends the saga, and the name 'Hird' never crosses my door again.