The code played North of the Murray has long claimed to be the superior product for television audiences, and based on the evidence of two Grand Finals played over the weekend, I would have to agree. And no, I’m not talking about the pre-match entertainment.
Please don’t get me wrong: As a sport, I prefer AFL to NRL. I thought the AFL Grand Final was a blinder of a game. But that could also be because the AFL subjected me, the TV viewer, to a criss-cross of stripes flying left, right, up, down across my TV screen.
The NRL had a team that normally wears a black jersey run out in a white jersey to better distinguish them from their opponents. It makes for better TV viewing.
Sorry, but the rhetoric of “it’s tradition!” just doesn’t cut it anymore. When every pixel is projected in 200MHz, 1080p Hi-Definition, it is inexcusable to leave the TV audience unsure about which side just tackled which. Dark Navy and white horizontal stripes. Black and white vertical stripes. Inexcusable.
Many of you will think that since you personally had no trouble distinguishing between the two sides, there can’t be any problem. But in the marquee game of the year, the only one that has any global reach whatsoever, the only one watched by people who don’t even care about football… the league let itself down by not forcing one side or the other to wear a clash jumper. Shorts and socks are all well and good, but for a TV audience the jumper is king.
Every time this discussion is raised, the league is bullied into submission by the more traditional clubs. Apparently they ignore the fact that Manchester United, FC Barcelona, the New York Yankees, the Boston Celtics and many other incredibly traditional, incredibly successful and incredibly huge sporting clubs all have genuine alternative kits.
Mr Demetriou and his cronies need to man up and mandate genuine clash jumpers. And no, Collingwood, just your smugblack with white stripes is not an alternative to white with black stripes.