Confession: I love controversy. I am not one of those girls who denies enjoying drama. I LOVE drama – good if it’s mine, great if it’s someone else’s, and the BEST if it’s public. Probably because I have such strong opinions (shocking, I know) that I love taking sides. And COLA is no different.
If you don’t know (and if you’re reading this post, I’m sure that you do, but just in case…) COLA is the cost-of-living allowance that Sydney teams get because the AFL has decided that the cost of living in Sydney is higher. The cost-of-living comparison has some merit in other industries. For instance, an engineer earning $100,000 in Sydney is doing well. An engineer earning $100,000 in Minsk is a freaking ROCKSTAR. As undergrads, we were taught to consider the cost-of-living when comparing job offers (which was no value to me because I decided to run halfway around the world, but I digress).
In sport it’s a bit different because of one thing: the salary cap. Because of this, lots of fans have been upset about Sydney’s exception and rightly so – although, let’s be honest, those people are Melbourne fans. It’s a common belief that the Swans wouldn’t have gotten Tippett or Franklin without it and you know what? They probably wouldn’t have.
And now, the AFL has decided to take it away. Sydney will no longer have COLA – they’ll be just like everyone else. Lots of people think that Sydney will flounder. Maybe they will.
So where do I stand on COLA? Frankly, I think it’s ridiculous and I agree it needs to end.
In no other capped sport (basketball, rugby, football… correct me if I’m wrong) are teams allowed additional funds for cost-of-living. This means, for example, that a basketball player in Oklahoma can make the same amount of money as one living in New York city (one guess which has a higher cost of living…). Salary caps are there for a reason: to make every team equal (or at least make it seem like the league is trying to do that, but we all know that salary caps are silly).
Furthermore, Melbourne’s cost of living is just about equal to Sydney’s. So economically, COLA is a bunch of bull. So there’s that.
But even more than that, you have to call COLA what it is: bribery. Sydney uses COLA to get player’s they normally wouldn’t get. “But, Kayla,” I hear you asking, “what do you mean they wouldn’t get them?” Well, eager beaver, I’ll tell you what I mean. I mean that AFL players are big babies. I cannot count the number of times I have heard about a homesick player. I mean, seriously? People leave their hometown ALL THE TIME. And these grown men are asking to be traded because they want to be closer to their families. Now, I’m not knocking family men, but there is something a bit pathetic about a person who complains about getting everything they ever wanted.
In the US, (I know, I know, I shouldn’t compare the two, but right now, I can’t help it) the odds that you’ll be drafted are so small that when your name is called, you hardly care who calls it. Yes, it would be ideal if it’s the team you grew up barracking for but even if it’s not, you kiss your mom goodbye, put that jersey on and thank your guardian angel that you get to do what you love.
And that’s why I think the AFL needs to get rid of COLA and why Sydney doesn’t need it. If you have to, essentially, bribe someone to come and play for you then that guy doesn’t want it bad enough – if he did, he’d go anywhere to get a game. And if he doesn’t want it… there are hundreds more out there just like him who would love to play for you. Who needs COLA?