First off, I’m sorry for missing a few posts last week. It was a particularly difficult week in school for one thing and I also didn’t really want to write, so there’s that. It’s unappealing to reveal my laziness but I have decided that honestly is the best policy.
The whole point of this series is to prove to the Australian men I’ve been arguing with that money is important in sport, and is essential for maintaining competitive balance. I talked about the salary cap and how that is meant to help, but doesn’t talk into account training and facilities. Here’s another thing you need money for that the AFL doesn’t monitor: recruiting.
We’ll start, as usual, with a question: is it possible to see an athlete’s full abilities by watching them play one game?
I hope to God you said no. Because it’s not. Think of all the bad games that Buddy, Swan, Pendlebury, Watson, Goddard, Stevie J have played. They’re amazing players and you know that their talent can’t be measured by one bad game. And I can remember countless games where a no-name has completely dominated, never to be seen or heard from again (of course it’s not that grim, but you now what I’m talking about). That’s because that good game was a fluke and you know, as well as I do, that flukes happen. But for some people, it costs more.
Now imagine you’re a recruiter for a club that doesn’t have a lot of money. Here’s your process: you do your research on players – some you can find online, some you hear by word-of-mouth. You learn all their stats and decide which ones are the best. Your club sends you to Melbourne to check out a few players but because the club is poor, you don’t get to stay for a month and see these guys play a couple games and go to a few practices. No, no. You get to stay the weekend. And you better see every one you had in mind while you’re there and make a few calls about whether they fit into your team. Maybe you see someone have a great game and maybe you see someone else play terribly. You make your judgements based on that but, as you answered above (assuming you answered correctly) you can’t make that call based on only one game.
Recruiting from a richer club is “easier” (I put that in quotes because recruiting is hard no matter the circumstances) because not only do you have more help – more people to research, more people to send all over the country, more people to make judgements – but you have more chances to see these guys play. Richer clubs can afford to send more people to more places for more time to really get to know the players, their playing styles and their personalities which results in better decision making.
Now, this one is a bit tricky, because there are exceptions to the rule. In theory, the best players come from Victoria, so Melbourne clubs should be able to make better judgements about those players. But the Melbourne Demons draft picks are evidence that it doesn’t always happen that way. There is an AFL combine, but that’s just more stats. And mainly, its guys playing against guys their age and skill level. That doesn’t always translate to the big league.
And now, to finish, another question: am I wrong? Is it easier for richer clubs to recruit?
So what does all this mean? Basically it means this: information imbalance. And THAT is the topic of my next post in this series. Get excited.