Tuesday, September 21, 2004

The Brownlow Medal Debate

For those of you not in the know - the Brownlow Medal is the Australian Football League's honour for the best and fairest player. There has been some conjecture over the years regarding this award.

It was named after Charles Brownlow who was a prominent VFL administrator (person running the league) and has been awarded since 1924, even though the league began in 1897. Here's a list of the winners. Argument exists that it should be named after someone else, someone who represents Australian football and not Victorian football.

I say get over it. When the West Coast Eagles and Brisbane Bears joined in 1987 it was still the Victorian Football League. It wasn't until the Adelaide Crows joined in 1991 that it became known as the Australian Football League. The AFL hasn't been around long enough to have a prominent player/member of the administration to have a name change. Changing the name will lose a great deal of heritage.

There is a call to have it judged differently. The umpires, who may never have played the game, get to vote on the three best players, 3-2-1. Some well known identities have called for the voting system to be changed. Maybe the coaching staff from each club could cast five votes, 5-4-3-2-1, for a total of 10 votes. The umpires have enough on their plate without having to worry about the best players.

What rubbish! The umpires, there are now three of them, as opposed to one umpire up until about 1990, are at the centre of the game. Nobody is better placed to provide insight into the best playes. They are at the coalface. They see more of what is going on than anybody else. How many times have we seen commentators, many of whom haven't played the game, show how very little idea they have of what is happening only five metres from the ball? They have blinkers on and can only see what we do best of poor television coverage. If you watch the game properly you witness the shepherding or leading, the encouragement that is shouted and other goings on behind the play.

The umpires are still best placed to pick the best and fairest players, in my opinion. No need for a name change either. Perhaps the only thing that could change is when the count is held. Instead of being three weeks after the home and away season and held in grand final week, it could be staged in the week following the final home and away matches. After all, the Mark of the Year and the Goal of the Year are awarded to play only from the home and away matches. Believe me, their are some spectacular marks and goals taken during the finals series. I think that these awards should be presented following the wrapping-up of the season. Brave men play in finals and do brave deeds.

Well done Chris Judd from the West Coast Eagles on winning the 2004 Brownlow Medal.

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