So it seems like the more places I look in sports, the more it feels like league officials simply went into ‘settings’ on their video game and changed things up to make things more interesting. Football moving to an overtime format that allows both teams to touch the ball unless the first team scores a touchdown. Don’t get me started on the challenge system. Hockey going to a shootout after a five-minute four-on-four overtime—did you see in the Olympics they went to three-on-three? Wow.
I’m definitely one of those old-school “you kids get off my lawn” kind of guys when it comes to things like this, but it’s probably helpful. It moves the game along, keeps things interesting, and lets the fans go home knowing there was a definite winner. It also reduces the chances of these marathon OT hockey playoff games of yesteryear, since it’s possible players are in 60-minute shape and not five-overtime shape.
With that as a backdrop, I present AFL X, a new thing the league is rolling out to generate interest in the preseason, which is still about three weeks away.
AFL X is played on a field about the size of a soccer pitch, with seven players on the field per team. If a player kicks a goal from behind that 40-meter line, it’s a 10-point goal accompanied by a brief pyrotechnics display. Whatevs. Two halves of ten minutes each, kick ins after any scoring shot, and no center bounce to let players catch their breath. Three players (for a total of 10 per side) are on the interchange bench and substitutions are unlimited.
This is a fast-paced game and the players get a pretty good workout. They’re running the equivalent of a 5K during the run of play, but they sure seem wiped out when the half starts winding down. Fewer stoppages means fewer chances to catch your breath. Greater emphasis seems to be placed on passing and accuracy, as opposed to ball pressure and tackling.
It sure seems like the guys in creative went crazy with the brainstorming session, and I’ll admit it was a challenge for me to watch the vids on YouTube. You know, the whole, “why can’t you guys just play the regular game” bit. Perhaps it’ll grow on me as the grand old game has. But the X looks like fun and it generates a little more buzz. Highly doubtful it’ll ever replace anything, but it does mean more people can play, thus it gets more people interested in rec leagues or wherever they play.
You kids go on, have your fun. I’ll just sit here on my porch.