Nathan Jones, amongst a star-studded ensemble of players, spoke on the state of the AFL and its respective ratings on Fox Footy on Monday night.
They were not beaming with compliments.
Jones, Geelong Brownlow Medallist Patrick Dangerfield and GWS co-captain Phil Davis urged the AFL to acknowledge the congestion and low scoring that has turned its own players away as viewers.
“For me it’s about bringing back the magic…the game is not in the best position or state it could be,” Jones said On The Couch on Monday.
“Removing my playing hat – I love the game for its competitiveness as a player – but as far as watching it…I used to be an avid watcher.
“But now I feel like I’m turning more games off. It’s not as aesthetically pleasing, I’m not getting as much enjoyment out of it and it’s not providing that excitement that it used to.”
AFL footy boss Steve Hocking is set to create an extensive survey on the state of the game, trialling with three teams – Hawthorn, Fremantle and Brisbane.
Dangerfield, president of the AFL Players’ Association, implored traditional leave-the-game-alone types to be open-minded and ready to accept change, discussing dwindling television ratings as a cause for urgency.
“I don’t think the AFL are looking at this and saying, ‘We’ve got time for audiences to decrease, we’ve got time for the revenue of the game to decrease’…they want it moved now,” Dangerfield said.
“It needs to be changed now…we need to bump (TV) audiences up now.”
Trial innovations will have players start in zones at stoppages and centre bounces, running 20m without bouncing and kicking in from behinds from 25m out from goal as opposed to the goal square.
“‘Zones’ is a terrible word within our code, but what it could potentially bring us, I think, is definitely worth investigating,” Dangerfield said.
“So, before you judge it take a look at it first because I think there’s merit in it, without a doubt.”