SCORING BOTTOMS

From last week’s post, The Hibernation of Gillon McLachlan, comes the query: Can scoring rise again is hard to estimate … or does the scoring rate continue to lie at the bottom of the scale? 

Gillon’s bum is even lower than expected. The four finals registered a scoring rate of 147.5 per game. In the same post, I argued:

‘The growing amount of field congestion, player rotations, collisions and disposals-treading-water appears to be a direct result of Gillon’s time as the AFL head. From seasons 2014 to 2017 the scoring had bottomed to 172.8 points per game. Prior to 2014 - 2010 the scoring rate was 182.6 points per game.’

This percolator filter of the scoring rate began during the seasons 2001 to 2009. Previously, from the 70s to the 90s, the scoring rates on average were close to 200pts per game. Only now have commentators begun to suspect that scoring bottom is a problem.   

Tim Lane, Age Newspaper September 11 acknowledged:

‘We've just had our lowest-scoring opening week of finals since the introduction of the final eight almost a quarter of a century ago.

Tackling is the most fundamental aspect of defence. If it isn't monitored closely enough by umpires, the spoiler will constantly prevail over the playmaker. And that means low scoring.’

While we like to read Mr Lane’s expert knowledge of footy, and support his contention that footy has become un-umpiring and uncivil, tackling and free kicks have minor influence on scoring rates.

Tackling on average is a poor indicator of the scores - 50:50 - for either team, winner or loser. The increased volume of tackling results from the growing field congestions and bench rotations. (Moreover, each contest is complicated by the psychic and mental ability of each participant.)

Free kicks are getting more bamboozled than ever. But like the tackling, on average of either side it’s 50:50 and a second poor indicator of team success and scoring rates. Prior to 1980 the free kicks averaged each season about 100 per game.

During 1980 to 1981, the umpire and media commentator, Harry Beitzel, then VFL Director of Umpiring, backed by coach Ron Barassi, reduced the umpire officialdom rate to 60 per game. Since then, it’s steadily edged to below 40 per game.

Fans, players, coaches, officials, media blokes such as Robbo the Tackler and Mr Lane, and even umpires, are all passionate about footy which means tackling is found desirable, free kicks should be few and, if possible, please let the game be true.

The problem of scoring bottom rating is not tackling or free kicks. Rather, it has come out of the heads of the AFL, media and agent honchos who have multiplied the weight given to the marketing and sales of fixtures, draft picks, video umpiring, bench rotations and meaningless statistics. A perusal of current afl.com.au/stats show that the heads of the AFL administration are about licensing and punters losing money rather their first duty, fair play for players and spectators.

Another generator of meaningless statistics is in the new Herald Sun Super Tracker, which the editorial claims is ‘correlated’. It might be fascinating and entertaining from the perspective of individual players. But it ain’t anything near the verified casual correlations required for rating team and scoring predictions.

For instance, according to the Super Tracker, following Wk1 of the finals, Port Adelaide and the GWS are the best ladder competition distance running teams of the season. During their respective qualification finals, each ran more distance than the Crows and the Eagles - and lost. 

Many IT engineers can tell us that the requirements the Super Tracker, combined with three other KPIS, have major costs plus technical glitches. Instead of the costs and glitches of the Super Tracker, why not invest in research and analysis of the statistics that could be verified in relation to the scoring bottom issues?

Meantime turn to tedsport.com/posts

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