Not only is Kevin Sheedy’s reputation as “super
coach” taking a battering at the moment, it seems his rival at Richmond, Terry
Wallace, is trying to steal his mantle as the AFL’s Big Ideas Man.

Speaking on Fox Footy’s White Line Fever, Wallace acknowledged –
in not so many words – that teams throw games to improve their draft position.
He said it’s a threat to the integrity of the AFL, and that a winner’s
cheque of $100,000 would provide an incentive for teams to play for a win.

Playing for draft picks is not a new idea.
What’s new is an AFL coach admitting it’s a reality and a threat, and going so far as to
propose a solution to it.

One question the idea raises is that of
economics: if a team doesn’t throw games, wins perhaps three more than it would
have otherwise, thereby lifting itself into tenth position, is the $300,000
worth as much as two or three talented new players?

Coincidentally, Geelong coach Mark
Thompson made a very interesting denial during a press conference yesterday. “We haven’t given up, no way,” he said when
asked if this year was a write-off. His answer might be reassuring for Geelong fans, but
it also suggests that the time may yet come where he and Geelong do give up.

Perhaps what he meant to say was, “Giving
up is not something modern football teams do. There is always something to be
gained playing a game of football, even if it won’t put us into this year’s
finals.”

Instead, we were led to the question:
will they tell us when they have given up? Can we assume clubs like Carlton, Essendon,
the Kangaroos and Port Adelaide have given up? And what does this mean for
individuals and betting companies with a financial interest in the “honest”
outcome of AFL matches?

In the interests of statistical analysis, here’s
what each club would have earned if the $100,000 winner’s cheque had been paid since
the 16 team competition began in 1997:

1. Brisbane – $13.5m

2. Essendon – $13.2m

3. Port Adelaide – $12.7m

4. Adelaide – $12.5m

5. Kangaroos – $12.4m

6. Sydney – $12.2m

7. West Coast – $11.3m

8. Geelong – $10.5m

9. Melbourne – $10.1

= 9. Bulldogs – $10.1

10. St Kilda – $9.9m

11. Richmond – $9.1m

= 11. Collingwood – $9.1m

12. Hawthorn – $9m

13. Carlton – $8.8m

14. Fremantle – $8.2m

And the all-time winner? Collingwood, which
would have pocketed $135,000,000 since 1897. If that doesn’t get Eddie
interested in the idea, nothing will.

Peter Fray

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