The AFL’s grand final ‘problem’

In the wake of Hawthorn’s historic three-peat there has been an incredible outcry from Australian sporting fans.

Plenty of people have expressed how boring they think the AFL is due to Hawthorn playing in their fourth straight grand final, while a startlingly large amount of people are suggesting that the AFL has become too predictable and are claiming only a handful of teams can be successful.

However, if the past 15 years are anything to go by that is not the case.

Over the past decade-and-a-half seven different teams have won the AFL premiership and 10 different teams have reached the grand final, quite similar to the NRL’s mark of 11 different premiership winners and 12 grand finalists.

The AFL does similarly well when stacked up against some of the biggest sporting leagues in the world too.

The NBA has crowned seven different champions with 12 teams making the finals, while the NFL and NHL have had 11 and 17, and 10 and 16 respectively.

It should also be mentioned that the AFL is leaps and bounds ahead of the English Premier League, which has only seen four teams finish on top and five teams place in the top two.

The myth that only a handful of clubs can achieve success is further dismissed when you look back through each grand final from 1998 until 2015. Every team in the league (excluding Greater Western Sydney and Gold Coast) has made the grand final, except for Richmond and the Western Bulldogs who made three straight preliminary finals from 2008 to 2010.

Furthermore, outside the two new expansion clubs, and the Bulldogs, Richmond, Melbourne and Fremantle, every club has participated in at least two grand finals since 1995.

That sounds a lot better than the late 1970s and early ’80s when only a handful of teams won and participated in grand finals.

With Richmond, Greater Western Sydney and the Western Bulldogs all rapidly improving it looks like the list of teams that haven’t made the grand final in recent memory could be set to shrink even further.

Currently we are looking at the most equal league in VFL and AFL history thanks to numerous measures put in place, allowing teams like Port Adelaide, West Coast and the Bulldogs to dramatically improve from one year to the next.

The run of success we are seeing at Hawthorn is something we should savour in an era where the AFL has done everything to prevent dynasties being formed.

Hawthorn have performed perfectly in all aspects of building a club up from mediocrity. With such a heavy emphasis now being placed on giving everybody an equal chance in the premiership race, we’re unlikely to see this ever again.

The Hawks may be a juggernaut, but the premiership is still a realistic goal for every club in the AFL.


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