NOTE: This article was originally published in 2016.
Remember the old saying - defence wins championships? Well, those days may be gone.
This year is the dawn of a new style of AFL footy, with teams regularly punishing each other with 100+ scores. And needless to say, for fans (and forwards) what a treat it is.
A couple of years ago, when Fremantle were suffocating teams but winning every week with final scores like 70 to 50, commentary was critical and many said coach Ross Lyon had a duty to the game to improve his scoring output. Lyon's response was 100 percent correct: 'I have a duty to win games.'
He was absolutely spot on. Coaches implement game styles that most effectively suit their squad. It is their job to put their team in a position to win. The aesthetics of the game are not more important than wins and losses.
However, attacking football should always be encouraged.
And here's my proposal for AFL chief Gillon McLachlan and his commission - the time has arrived to introduce a bonus premiership point for those willing and capable of booting high scores.
Yes, tradition is important, but we can't allow what we have always done to stand in the way of improvement.
Current chatter from analysts, fans and players suggests the game has never looked so great, so effectively all I am suggesting is we put something in place to ensure the ongoing beauty and success of our sport.
Here is the explanation of my concept:
Bonus premiership point - Any team (win or loss) that manages to score 100 points in the match will automatically receive a bonus premiership point. For example, Adelaide 15.11 (101) defeats Port Adelaide 15.10 (100). The Crows receive four points for the win plus one for scoring above 100 while Port also snare a single premiership point as they also scored 100.
I've broached this idea with a couple of intelligent footy people around town and the most common rebuttal to my idea is the Marvel Stadium factor. At face value it would seem that the clubs who frequent the indoor stadium often have an unfair advantage on those who don't. Docklands is home to the Western Bulldogs, North Melbourne and St Kilda, who all play there at least a dozen times in 2016 while Sydney and Gold Coast will only play under the roof twice this season.
Apparently, that would give the Saints, Dogs and Roos the unfair advantage of regularly scoring 100+ and acquiring extra premiership points. But, as I have always said, we play the most unpredictable game in the world and logic does not always apply.
To counter the Marvel argument, in 2015, Grand Final combatants West Coast and Hawthorn were the two highest scoring teams in the competition - by a long way. The high-scoring Hawks scored 345 more points than the third-placed scoring team, which was my Crows. On average, the eventual premiers scored more than two goals per game more than Adelaide did and a frighteningly enormous amount of 154 more goals than the last-placed scorers, Carlton.
In 2015, West Coast only played at Marvel Stadium three times and on two of those occasions they did not even manage to kick 100 points. So the second-most potent attack in the AFL headed to what would seem to be the most score-friendly venue in the league but only posted scores of 87 twice and 131 in a big win against Collingwood.
Hawthorn played at Marvel on four occasions last season and did post some huge scores but were in fact held to under 100 in a loss to Port Adelaide in Round 4. The Hawks managed 100+ 14 times, proving the lack of opportunities in the slick conditions of Marvel Stadium was no cause for concern.
Now that we have quashed that issue, let's look at the reasons that adding the bonus point for raising the bat is worthy.
The simple view -- and sometimes simple is best -- is that high-scoring football is attractive, and providing teams the chance of registering five premiership points or even pinching one despite losing adds intrigue and opportunity for participants and viewers.
The Roos of 2016 have 36 premiership points for their nine victories. In six of those wins, they have posted more than 100, which under my system would give them an added six bonus points.
At the opposite end of the spectrum, Fremantle are winless but have scored a ton twice so instead of being on zero, they would actually have two premiership points. A side that has surprised many in the past month and has played some inspired footy is Carlton, who sit just one win outside the top eight. In the world of the bonus point, though, they are falling behind: 104 has been their highest score, meaning despite five wins, they have only been able to secure one bonus point.
So despite being just one win behind eighth-placed Adelaide, the Blues would be more than two wins behind the Crows, as my old mob have scored 100+ on seven different occasions.
Now you see how the importance of scoring would greatly impact the ladder positions.
Put finals places at stake and you will see 18 teams playing run and gun, uptempo, high-scoring footy - something I know we would all love to see long-term.