The AFL Ladder Gap is widening. It’s time we talk about it.
Let’s imagine two AFL teams. They both field 22 players each week. They have the same salary cap, recruit players from the same draft, and play the same number of games in a season. They even have the same home ground. These teams are identical on paper, and you would therefore assume that at the end of the season, they would have an identical tally of premiership points.
In a perfect world, maybe — but in reality, that’s not the case at all. As of right now, two Victorian teams are sitting at opposite ends of ladder after playing exactly the same number of games: Richmond is second with 28 premiership points, while Carlton is dead bottom with only four. The only difference between them is that the Tigers have won heaps of games, and the Blues haven’t.
It’s the latest example of the AFL Ladder Gap, a shameful form of inequality that the league refuses to address.
By sorting teams according to how many games they’ve won, the AFL systematically discriminates against teams that perform poorly. Its premiership ladder is structured in such a way that strong teams rise to the top, and weak teams languish at the bottom. It maximises inequality by design.
Here’s how it works: in an AFL match, the team with the highest score at the end of the fourth quarter is declared the winner. The winning team is awarded four premiership points and thus ascends the ladder. But here’s the bit that everyone glosses over: while the winning team receives four points, the losing team gets nothing. It walks away with zero points, and consequently slides toward the bottom of the ladder.
This creates a gap between the teams that win, and the teams that lose. To make things worse, the gap tends to widen as the season progresses. At the end of Round 1, the gap between Richmond and Carlton was only four premiership points — eight rounds later, it’s blown out to 24 points. The trend is undeniable.
The AFL is standing by its discrimination machine. It claims that such massive inequality is necessary to ‘keep the game interesting’. So, after years of inaction on this issue, I’ve taken matters into my own hands.
I recently launched an organisation called Sharing the Happiness Of Winning (SHOW). Our mission is to eliminate the Ladder Gap by promoting a competition in which every team receives four points after every match, regardless of the result. Every player will therefore get to play finals.
Critics have argued that if every team occupies the exact same spot on the ladder, there’s no point even calling it a ladder. But those people are wrong. The ladder still exists under my new and improved system, it’s just lying down — horizontal, not vertical. You cannot ascend nor descend my ladder, and therein lies its beauty. Every team is equal.
As an added bonus, each player will receive a high-quality sports bag — a ‘SHOW bag’ — upon the new competition’s launch. This will help ease their transition into the better, fairer system I’ve devised.
For too long, the AFL has perpetuated a system that discriminates against teams that lose, while rewarding those that win. It stops now. Together, we will close the Ladder Gap once and for all. We will create a world where Carlton and Richmond occupy the same rung of the AFL ladder, irrespective of their on-field performance.
It’s the right thing to do, and it’s well overdue. Join me, and let’s Share the Happiness Of Winning.