Australian Football League Commission's New Charter Secures Future Of The Bump
The Australian Football League Commission "has formally enshrined the long-term future of the bump in its preamble to the laws of the game charter sent to all AFL clubs," according to Patrick Smith of THE AUSTRALIAN. It is "the most significant document regarding the nature of AFL football since the first set of rules were scratched out in 1859." It is "one of the elements of the game the commission stresses must not be lost if AFL football is to retain its inherent toughness and physicality." The other untouchables are "contested possessions, contested marks, ruck contests, tackling and shepherding." These are the "bedrock of the rugged image of the AFL competition." While the commission qualifies "the robust nature of AFL football by emphasising the players’ duty of care to opponents, it is the clearest sign yet that the game will not lose its unique toughness as is feared by many supporters" (THE AUSTRALIAN, 7/11). In Melbourne, Caroline Wilson reported the "much-vaunted charter was a worthy exercise ultimately watered down to appease football's extensive multi-layered competitions, the purists and the evolutionists -- not to mention protecting the game's governing body from irate coaches and potential legal threats." It "offers few restrictions, apart from frowning heavily upon zones." AFL Chair Mike Fitzpatrick, the commissioner "most disenchanted with the manner in which the game has evolved," would have rubber stamped the "continuous and free-flowing football" and preference for "an attacking style of game," but outgoing CEO Andrew Demetriou "would be disappointed that the centre bounce has not been stressed as preferable to the ball-up." A charter set in stone "could have seen the AFL exposed should a recalcitrant player or club balk at an umpiring decision or game suspension." Clearly, "a game that has changed so much about itself over such a short period did not want to restrict itself from further change" (THE AGE, 7/10).