AFLX-cuse me? The brainless scheduling of footy’s new format

In case you weren’t already certain, yes, AFLX is a rubbish concept.

Rather than being a slight alteration of a familiar, adored sport into a shorter format similar to T-20 cricket or Rugby Sevens, AFLX (presumably the ‘X’ stands for extreme as a way to reach out to the cool, funky, hip youth of today) is a bastardisation masqueraded as Australian Rules football.

The game will be played on a traditional soccer pitch in order to expand the sport overseas, because apparently footy being played on an oval is the only thing stopping Aussie Rules footy from breaking into the international market.

The AFL’s intentions to push this format as an international sport ahead of the real Australian Rules itself – which is already being played by a healthy number of overseas athletes – is equally concerning and laughable, but I digress.

AFLX is fine to exist. It’s stupid, but harmless, so long as it doesn’t interfere with anything else that that actually means something. Kind of like the International Rules series.

But as was announced on Friday afternoon, the AFL has decided to plonk AFLX between February 15 and 17 in 2018, which clashes with round three of the AFLW.

Though AFLX will only overlap with two AFLW matches – Adelaide vs Western Bulldogs and Carlton vs Brisbane – its timing is laughable, and makes you pose the question: ‘They really don’t give a stuff, do they?’

It was decided in October when the 2018 AFLW fixture was released that the season would not be expanded due to the potential clashes with other sporting events, mainly the Big Bash League and Australian Open.

Even the finals, which were expected to expand to two weeks rather than solely a Grand Final, were kept the same as 2017.

Considering the AFL’s supposed concern about AFLW clashing with other sports, surely they’d be smart about the AFLX’s placement so not to disturb its momentum.

Instead, the AFL places AFLX in the worst possible slot. Make sense of that.

Sure, AFLX will only clash with two AFLW matches, but it will divert the attention of the wider media – and no doubt the focus of the AFL’s broadcast partners – away from the AFLW at a critical point in the short season.

AFLW will be undoubtedly post strong TV numbers and crowd figures in the first round, and ultimately have a drop off in the second week.

However, instead of allowing the interest to plateau, the AFL’s mindless fixturing of AFLX will kill the women’s season’s momentum by shifting the focus elsewhere.

In such a short home-and-away season of just seven weeks, the AFL is essentially eliminating one week of focus for this abomination format, and just expecting casual AFLW fans to tune in again the next week as though nothing happened.

Not exactly the best way to develop and nurture a supporter base.

Once again, the AFLW will receive the short end of the stick as a result of short-sighted stupidity from the lads upstairs.

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