Yesterday, boyfriend and I got into a heated (heated is an understatement – I almost drove away and left him at the park) discussion.
You see, he seems to think that you should pay players based on performance. He was talking about Melbourne and the hot mess that makes up their club (I mean honestly – losing to the Gold Coast by 60 points AT THE MCG? You have got to be kidding). I will write a post about what I think Melbourne needs to do to get back on track (spoiler alert: A LOT) but in the meantime, I am going to address boyfriend’s concern. Because if he thinks this is a possibility, he can’t be the only one.
Now, I’m not saying it’s not a good idea. I’m saying it is too difficult to implement. There are too many issues… as you will see (and honestly, I shortened this post because I care about your eyes).
NOTE: It wasn’t until after I wrote this post that I realised I wrote it about AFL. But if you take out the stuff about the CBA, it’s applicable about to any sport.
It won’t change things anyway
Studies show that performance based pay makes no difference when employees are committed to the company. Therefore, you can already say that it won’t work, because we know that players are dedicated to their club. “But Kayla!” you say, “what about players who aren’t dedicated to their club?” Well, anonymous reader, that’s a great point. You show me a professional athlete who doesn’t want to win games and a Grand Final… and I’ll show you a player who shouldn’t be a professional anyway. Don’t worry about those idiots – drop ‘em. There are 1,000 more ready to take his place.
It’s (almost) not quantifiable
People get payed based on performance all the time, right? That’s what sales is – there are entire industries built like this. In those instances, however, it’s easy to see who is performing best. You typically get a percentage of your sales/billables as a bonus, or everyone at each level gets the same amount (i.e., seniors get $x, juniors get $y, and so on and so forth). Obviously, the latter is not what we’re talking about here. The problem is: how do you quantify contribution? It may be easy for one game. Let’s say you have Ryan Crowley tagging Gary Ablett (sound familiar?) and because of him, Ablett only gets three touches (this was the example my boyfriend gave). Okay, sure, he had an impact on the game. But let’s say in that same game, Fremantle wins by ten goals and Nathan Fyfe scored six. Who was more valuable to the team? Who do you pay more? And if you pay them both the same because of their contribution, then what about the rest of the team?
Not only is it hard to quantify it each game, but how do you quantify it over an entire season? If someone dominates at the start of the season, but gets injured and can’t play in the last games, are they less valuable? Or what if you have a player that dominates when it doesn’t matter (like Tom Lynch scoring 10 goals against GWS yesterday) but crumbles under the pressure of playing a top-of-the-ladder team? Are they effective… or not?
Of course, you can always take the Dream Team approach and play them per goal, or per touch, but as we all know… that doesn’t tell you how valuable a person is to a team and those taggers who dominate their opponent? Well, don’t expect them to be noticed or paid more.
Boyfriend says you can just have the coach decide. But then, how much room does that leave for favouritism? LOTS.
There’s already a bonus in place for this
Clubs are allowed to award bonuses to players who are in the top ten best and fairest of the club. This is not part of the salary cap (at least, I don’t think it is). The best players – taggers, scorers, defenders… – will likely find themselves in the top ten, anyway. What’s the point of doing it twice?
They may not reach TPP
The CBA says that clubs must spend at least 92.5% of the salary cap on salaries. If you plan on usig bonuses as part of salaries, there is no way that you can start the season having spent that much. You’d have to spend more like… 50% (at the most). But what if you go through the season and everyone does terribly? You’ll probably have money left over which means that you’ll have to divide it – equitably – amongst the players. That’s all well and good, but it also defeats the purpose of this idea: don’t pay players that don’t perform.
Requirements will be unclear
If you want merit pay to work, requirements have to be made clear to the employee (the player) by the employer (the coach). In sales jobs, for instance, it’s easy: you get 5% commission of what you sell. But if you implement this system, you can’t say to a player, “You’ll get money based on how much you impact each game in relation to your teammates.” You will literally be able to see question marks forming over their heads.
Players will compete against each other
As we know, each club has a limited amount of funds (duh, we call it the salary cap). This means that, like it or not, in this system players would be paid relative to his teammates. Therefore, you can expect that they will try and outperform their competition – their teammates. This makes for terrible play, and even worse club culture. Players will be selfish with the ball, try and hit ridiculous shots and it will give the club a generally negative vibe.
Not to mention, although the AFL does not release player salaries, eventually estimates get out. If you think you did better than your teammate and he gets paid more at the end of the year… well. I can’t imagine you’ll be handing him that ball so readily next season, will you?
It’s against the CBA
This may be the most important one. The CBA basically dictates everything about money in the AFL and it lays out what can be a ‘bonus’ and performance isn’t one of them. According to the CBA, bonuses can be awarded for the number of senior matches played, for being in the club’s top ten best and fairest, and for competing in the grand final. Bonuses based on performance are not included and therefore, (at least until 2017 when the CBA is renegotiated) is not allowed. The end.
Not to mention, there are caps on how much you can pay each player (usually based on the number of years they’ve played or the list they’re on) and it’s not fair for a rookie, say, if he’s killing it every week, to be paid less than a senior player who does a mediocre job, just because he’s a rookie. That would happen in this case.
My last point. Buddy is MIND-NUMBINGLY amazing. Everyone knows that. But how do you pay someone like him based on their performance? It’s an impossibility.
Like I said… it can’t actually be done. Agree?
Although, I think this might be a fun assignment for me for the end of the year… Anyone interested in seeing what I’d pay players based on their performance at the end of the season? I’ll keep that one in the pipeline.
Want to know more? Read this.