I'm sure I'll get in trouble with someone about this. This isn't video game related, it's not wargaming related. It's sportsball related.
Yup. I'm going there. The unfunny soapbox blog post.
I don't want to make too many apologies and prefaces. After all, three people will read this and then go-on to the rest of their busy lives. It means I can write without fear of backlash - although let's be honest, half my audience won't care and the other half doesn't watch the AFL.
But let me be clear and put my biases out there so you can make an educated decision on if you should swerve around this blog post. I am not a Feminist. I do not have time for "Men's Rights Activism". I sit on the fence and get splinters in my ass, because it's important to consider all the angles.
But I'll tell you what I do love. Football.
I don't care who plays it, I want to watch it. I want to pick a team and get invested and ride the dopamine-fuelled rollercoaster. I want to banter with my mates about footy players. I want to talk smack about your team and scream in the stands. I want to feel the despair that sets in when football season is over and my Friday nights lie empty and desolate. I love it all.
I'm not alone. There are millions of us in Australia who love one football code or another. That feel the same emotions I do. That ride the same rollercoaster I do. Yet we diverge - and I cannot understand why. Even after checking my brain at the door and diving into the murky depths of Facebook comment sections, I do not understand why - and it makes me angry.
You would've thought that more football, no matter who plays it, is a good thing. AFL now starts in February! Great! Yes, alright, it's a less skilled game. Yes, alright, the scores are lower and it's a bit less exciting. But these women - these amazing women are the shining beacons for the next generation of AFLW players. Give AFLW investment, airtime and sponsorship and you'll have a terrific product. Yes, it needs time, it needs money and it needs support and care. But AFLW is still football.
Consider what the AFL was like when it launched a hundred and thirty years ago. Go ahead, look up some of the scorelines from ninteen-dicketty two. I'll wait. Look familiar?
Whenever I think of the complainers of the AFLW, I think back to my first live AFLW game. I went with my father, who loves the Geelong Cats. Dyed in the wool. He drives a Ford because Tom Hawkins told him to. He wears his Geelong training gurnsey to the gym. He has a cats version of every household item imaginable. So when the Cats came to my town to play my team, we jumped at the chance to go. Did it matter it was AFLW? Not at all. We discussed the consternation about the AFLW. I said was just happy to go the football and that the Women's game just needed time and didn't understand those who held ill-will toward it.
"Vulkan, over there is the Cats football team." came the response. Suddenly, no more needed to be said. Because he was right. The gurnseys and playing fields are the same. The same die-hard fans came to the oval that day.
Yet those oblivious to history are happy to pipe up on social media. Bellowing about how the AFLW is 'overhyped' or 'rubbish'. Like they have 'legitimate concerns' but never name any. Or declaring that the AFL has a 'Feminist Agenda'. I'd take the time to unpick all of these deliberately generalised and vague statements, but they do it themselves. No-one can tell me what these 'legtimiate complaints' are. Statements that the AFLW is 'overhyped' are subjective at best and misleading at worst.
In the middle is me, who cannot understand why more football is a bad thing. Because that, at the core, is what AFLW is - more footy. We should be cheering on our favourite teams, gathered round the telly. We should be giving them sponsors and air time - and eventually giving them a full 21-round season. We could live in a classless utopia where football runs 365 days a year. What a world.
Yet it seems, as always, we are held back by those of us who cannot accept that the world is changing around them. Obviously there's a hundred and fifty years to go. The AFL is an instutition - the AFLW just managed to move into its first apartment. But I'll be watching all of my team's games, every season. Why? The answer is suprisingly simple. It has nothing to do with gender, or 'agendas' or chem-trails, or lead in the waterpipes. It's because I love footy. I want to watch footy - and more of a good thing is just what the doctor ordered. I yearn for the day that the AFLW and NRLW can become fully fledged products of their own. Because the end result will be more sport - and that's never a bad thing.
So get out there, tune in and turn on. Enjoy the games and enjoy the footy. Even if you support Collingwood.
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