Did a move to August work for the AFLW?
THE 2022 calendar year saw a massive change for the AFL Women’s competition, with the competition moved to an August start date for the first time in the competition’s history.
It had seemed that the AFL had somewhat listened to the players and supporters and taken the competition out of the blistering summer heat. But did the August experiment work? We will take a look at the positives and negatives that an August start date brought, and you can make up your mind from there.
Colder weather – less ACLs
Moving the season to August means colder weather than the traditional AFLW season time, which leads to a reduction in the number of ACL injuries suffered.
Now unfortunately there were still a high number of injuries suffered this season, but there are other factors that may have played a part in this, including adjusting back to the conditions and the quick turn around between seasons.
Conditions more fan friendly
In connection with the previous point, it was also better conditions for the fans watching their games.
With shade at a premium at some grounds, the hot summer months were a challenge at times for fans watching the games, so a move to August meant much more suitable conditions for those attending.
Less access to grounds
Particularly later in the season, one huge hurdle that the AFL had to overcome was ground availability.
With many of the grounds traditionally used for football also cricket grounds and therefore not an option, the squeeze was on to find enough grounds of a good enough standard.
This also could have been avoided if the AFL did not rush the move and had actually consulted those in charge at cricket and booked the relevant grounds.
No media-free air time
One of the biggest drivers for the AFL this whole time has been trying to get clear air time in the media for the AFLW, which is why they are so reluctant to run the season at the same time as the AFLM season.
However, what the AFL does not realise is that no matter when they run the season, the AFLW does not get clear air time with a lot of the mainstream media outlets, with the coverage often blended in with the men’s competition.
Unless the AFL do something, attitudes will not change at these outlets and the AFLW will not get anywhere near the media coverage that the AFLM does.
Not sustainable for a full season
An August start is not sustainable when the season is full length.
Once everyone is playing everyone at least once, a full minimum 17 round season would stretch well into the hottest part of summer if the season starts in August.
They will be forced to move the season eventually, but with an apparent keenness to keep the August start date, should we take that as an indication of the timeline to a full season?
Overall, although there are some positives with an August start date for AFLW, realistically it still provided some obstacles.
Although there are no indications of extending the season next year, fans will be hoping for a prolonged fixture in the coming seasons.