No Thanks – AFLPA Discussing 16-Minute Quarters… Again

The winds of change are blowing in AFL circles, and supporters would be wise to start taking note. Perhaps they’d be wise to voice their displeasure, too.

Over the past couple of weeks, the spectre of shorter games has started to loom over the competition once again, as the AFL Players Association has reportedly started campaigning for a reduction in game time.

Not a reduction in the ridiculously long pre-season, in which multiple players suffered season-ending injuries before the ball was bounced, but shorter games – a reduction back to 16-minute quarters, to be exact.



Do you remember when the last time we had 16-minute quarters was?

Allow me to refresh your memory.

The world was experiencing a pandemic, and after it appeared as though the 2020 AFL season was going to be cancelled, the league managed to push through, restart games, and locate teams in a Gold Coast hub. They also reduced both the time between games, and the length of the contests.

And it sucked ass!

I’m sorry for the language, but that season, which many will blame on the lack of crowds at venues, produced some of the worst football I can remember.

I can recall being so pumped for the return of footy. We were all locked down in our homes, away from family and friends, and looking forward to something resembling normalcy back in our lives.

And then we had Richmond and Collingwood roll out in an absolute cesspool of a game, where the final score of 36-36 left everyone wondering what happened to the great game we loved.

Oh, but it didn’t stop there. No, there was the riveting 47-44 scoreline in the Melbourne v Geelong gem, the 34-54 snoozefest between the Dockers and Crows, and the 34-26 debacle between the Tigers and Swans.

It was bloody horrible footy. Dour, defensive, and with players never getting fatigued, no one could break down defences.

And do they think we’ve forgotten about this? Do they think people are goldfish, and will plonk their hard-earned coin down to support such a diluted product?

I won’t be.

But they’ll tell you it comes back to health and safety, citing the vast number of injuries that the players have incurred this season.

Like the one Tom Doedee did in training without playing a game for Brisbane.

Or like the one Jack Silvagni did in the preseason.

Or the one Dan McStay did.

Are they counting them amongst this huge injury toll? Because if they are, it has nothing to do with the time spent on the field during a game – this occurred on the clubs’ watch in the time they demand the players spend at the club to get ready for this arduous season. If they want less stress on the bodies of players, stop running them into the ground in an effort to record a PB every bloody time trial! Or how about expanded lists? You know, rest some players and bring others through. Could that work?

Nah… shorten the games – idiot supporters will get used it, right?

I’m not sure about you, but every time I hear that the AFL are looking into something, my thoughts gravitate to the worst-case scenario. I’m at the point now where I kind of expect them to implement something to further cock things up. And to hear that the AFL Players Association is now pushing for a shorter duration for games, being just four years removed from the worst season of football I can remember, indicates that either they have decided their serious concerns about the welfare of players has only one solution, or… or they have little to no idea what the people who put money in their pocket actually want.

I can categorically state that I have no intention of ever again wanting to watch another game of footy with 16-minute quarters. It wasn;t footy – it was AFLX with proper teams. I don’t want to look at the clock after the teams fire their opening salvos to realise the quarter is already half-over. And I don’t want to pretend that these shortened games are still good, when we have recent history to tell us they weren’t.

Back in 2020, we were starving for footy. We had it ripped away along with most other things we enjoyed so much, and with these shorter games, the AFL threw us all a cracker. And damn it, after being so hungry for footy, that may have tasted like the best cracker we’ve ever had.

But four years after that final siren rang out and the Tigers claimed their third flag in four years, we can see the 2020 season and the 16-minute quarters for what they were. A pretty ordinary old cracker with nothing special about it.

Try to throw me another one now, I’ll throw it right back at you.

I don’t even want a bite.


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