The footy seasons can’t come around soon enough.
If you’re a sports fan tearing your hair out at the lack of quality sport in February, rest assured you’re not the only one.
Apart from some relatively meaningless white ball cricket against the West Indies, there isn’t much local action for Aussie sport fans to sink their teeth into under the NBL finals and the Test series between Australia and New Zealand begin later this month.
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The NRL season starts with two games in Las Vegas on Sunday March 3 Australian time, before the AFL season kicks off with the opening round in the second weekend of March.
The AFL’s Trade Period has taken over October and one footy commentator has called for the code to stretch into the month of February to make the most of the empty space on the sporting calendar.
Speaking on SEN, AFL caller Dwayne Russell said the league was missing a chance to play pre-season games or even start the season proper in February.
“Footy could easily be starting this weekend,” Russell said.
“The AFL is leaving Feb to be wasted, I think.
“Is the AFL wasting February? The NBL has a magnificent vacancy to fill with February, they’re going to have February all to themselves … they must love it. No one wants 50-over cricket in February by the looks of things.”
The introduction of Gather Round in Adelaide has extended the season, and Russell believes the AFL could add even more byes to spread the season out over 30 weeks.
He said: “You could either start the season earlier, you could play pre-season games this coming weekend, you could make it a 30-week AFL season if you wanted to, you could have an extra bye in the middle of it, you could play everyone twice starting this weekend and finish the season in October.
“There’s all those options for the AFL … you could have a knockout comp where the kids are gonna be played across the next couple of weeks.
“February is wasted … they tried AFLX, it failed, they just gave up on AFLX.
“They’ve tried a few things the AFL, but they’ve given up on February again and it’s a bit of a waste I reckon.”
A 30-week season would mean footy is played for more than half the year and continue encroaching on the summer of cricket, which had mixed crowds this season.
Test matches in Melbourne, Sydney and Adelaide were well attended, but Perth and Brisbane had poor crowds for the first and last Tests of the summer against Pakistan and the West Indies.
Competition for Test matches within work and school holidays has become fiercer than ever as it appears the Boxing Day and New Year’s Tests aren’t leaving Melbourne or Sydney.
Fox Cricket commentator Kerry O’Keeffe said earlier in the summer he believes Australia’s interest in cricket is slowly waning as the footy codes increase their stranglehold on the news cycle all year round.
“I don’t want to be talking about (wantaway Warriors forward) Addin Fonua-Blake in November, it’s driving me nuts,” he told SEN at the time.
“When I hear sports talkback people on other stations…it’s early November and they say, ‘Oh, I can’t wait for Round 1 of the NRL’, please… give yourself an uppercut, what is going on? “We’ve deep down lost our love of it (cricket). It should be propagated by people in the media. I don’t care if it’s seen as our national sport or not (but) the nations that rise in cricket are the ones that are absolutely passionate about the game.
“We’re talking about Addin Fonua-Blake and where he might go in 2027, please. Will the Dragons get the spoon? Who cares in November? Who cares in March? Come on.”