(Australian Associated Press)
AFL legend Kevin Bartlett has condemned opposition to Australian rules football’s iconic centre ball bounce to commence play.
Richmond champion Bartlett wants to keep the bounce, and further remove rule changes to only do so in the centre square and throw the ball up elsewhere on the ground.
“We should never have gotten rid of the bounce at all around the ground in the first place,” Bartlett told SEN radio on Wednesday.
“The bounce is unique to our game … with the oval ball that sometimes went off centre and at different heights, ruckwork once was an art form of the game.
“Now, they want a basketball tip-off to start our great game. Good god.”
AFL umpires coach Hayden Kennedy said the bounce was detrimental not only to fairness in the game but also attempts to raise the standard of officiating.
It was putting too much physical strain on umpires’ bodies, he said.
“I think there’s really no benefit. I think by throwing up and creating an even contest on all occasions is probably the best way for us to go,” Kennedy told radio show Sportsday.
“We’ve (umpires) had a few more injuries of late, especially towards the end of last year, some shoulders, some backs and some hamstrings.”
“We don’t want to stop good umpires coming through because they can’t bounce or they don’t bounce currently at the community level.
“It’s a really demanding and dynamic movement. To do it for 15-20 years at the community level beforehand, it takes a fair toll on the body. If (umpires) can’t bounce well, we don’t want to exclude them because they’re good umpires.”
The bounce has long been one of the game’s great spectacles, featuring in AFL marketing campaigns and sponsors’ advertisements.
Concern around scrapping the bounce has centred around ridding the AFL of one of its most attractive qualities – its randomness.
“It should be if the ball goes off centre, play on,” Bartlett said.
“Like it was, until some sooked because an odd crooked bounce gave the opposition a perceived advantage.
“It’s an oval ball, for god’s sake.
“We brag about having the greatest game in the world for over 100 years, now they want to turn it into some hybrid game for the whingers.”