Those of us with short attention spans and no appreciation for the trait of delayed gratification, not to mention an abhorrent reaction to anything that disrupts our routine, are still undecided on our feelings about the AFL taking an extra week in between the home-and-away season and the start of the finals. If forced to abandon our procrastination and disclose an opinion, we would have to come out against the season-prolonging bye week simply on the basis of the break from tradition it represents.
Admittedly, we would find few allies amidst the ranks of the Essendon Bombers and their supporters, as the bye week almost seems to have been installed solely for their benefit.
The Dons are outside the top four, but the week away will permit the side to regain the services of All-Australian defender Michael Hurley and Orazia Fantasia. The Dons will need all hands for the elimination final, as they have drawn the Sydney Swans, whose resurrection from the drawer containing the wooden spoons is one of the most remarkable stories of the Toyota 2017 AFL Premiership competition.
The Bombers also expect swingman Cale Hooker (obviously, a rugby player, at least in name) to be ready and two weeks should give his balky calf time to mend a bit.
Dons vet Brendon Goddard made no bones about the help his side received through the extra week off, telling the Herald Sun, “I think it’s (the bye) only going to benefit us. We’re going to be one of the teams that will really benefit from it.”
The Swans may be less inclined to view the bye week as a blessing. They have the surge going right now and a week’s inactivity might leave them subject to the rust that has afflicted sports teams in every league since gaps such as the AFL’s bye week became commonplace.
It would be cynical to say the reason for the bye week is to enable more promotion, when it is clear that the league introduced the bye week last year in the effort to make it unnecessary for clubs to make big changes to their sides before the finals.