Get rid of the video umpire or: How I Learned To Stop Worrying And Love The Post

Today’s high-definition slo-mo replays put umpires under significant pressure to make the correct call. In earlier times, players and barrackers might get upset about a perceived bad call but had no proof to point to, and having a tough decision go against you was acknowledged as the luck of the game.

Now that proof is readily available for any incorrect call, the AFL has responded by introducing video umpiring for some decisions. This takes some of the pressure off umpires, but it introduces unsatisfying delays and still doesn’t provide certainty.

A VFL goal umpire in white coat and hat
The goal umpire will see you now

One solution would be for everyone to change their philosophy – to come to grips with the idea that what an umpire sees is all that counts. That if a goal umpire determines the ball had touched the post (but the video shows it didn’t) we shrug and put the blame on the player for not kicking more accurately, for not doing enough for the umpire to be satisfied.

Of course, that will never happen. We’ve always blamed the umpires and we always will. The simplest palatable solution, then, is to remove some of the difficult decisions entirely.

Hit the post

“I think it was a goal but I want to check it didn’t brush the post.”

So what if it did brush the post? Did it go through the goalposts? That’s enough for me, give them six points and go back to the centre.

If the ball hits the post and bounces back into play things get a bit trickier. We could play on, as was trialled in pre-season games, but the smallest change would be to award a behind in those cases only.


“I think it was a goal but I want to see if it was touched.”

Do we really need to deny someone a goal if their opponent brushed the tip of their pinky finger against it? Why do we reward defenders who couldn’t stop the ball from going through? If the primary driving force behind the goal was an attackers foot, and there was no non-foot assistance from a teammate (headers or hands-of-God), let’s call it a goal.

Similarly, why does it matter if a kick was touched off the boot when awarding a mark? The defender didn’t smother it enough to prevent it going the required fifteen metres. Let’s get rid of the touched-off-the-boot restriction.

An AFL defender who may or may not be touching the ball as it crosses the line.
The excitement of a Friday night score review!


I won’t have considered all the ramifications of my suggestions, and I’m not wedded to them. It also wouldn’t solve line-ball problems – that’d remain the issue it is in so many other sports, and only billions of dollars or my suggestion for a philosophy change can fix that.

The idea I want to promote is that it’s better to remove or simplify the existing laws to achieve an objective than to add more technology and processes to do the same. My suggestions may raise the hackles of traditionalists, but Aussie rules is already a very different sport to the one they watched and played as kids. Is a slight change to the definition of a goal as bad as requiring video validation for every scoring decision?

Travis, mate! Bet365 has kicked me out!

Travis, cobber! You told me that the final whistle is never the final whistle. That the turnstiles would never stop turning. That the cheering goes on forever. That we were part of something big.

Travis Fimmel's image projected onto a stadium
Travis enjoying a nil-all draw between two failed states, probably.

But I’ve been shut out, Travis! What did I do wrong?

A message in the Bet365 mobile site
I need to charge my phone.

Could it be a mistake, Travis? Here is the complete list of bets I placed in my last six months:

A list of bets placed on Bet365
I did OK, but I’m no David Walsh.

I messaged Bet365 and had no response. I called them up but the service rep wouldn’t answer my questions:

“The only thing I can say is that your account was subjected to a full review, it was a management decision to place the restriction, and we can provide you with no further information.”

What does this mean, Travis? There’s a hint in the Bet365 terms and conditions:

4.2 bet365 reserves the right to close or suspend your account at any time and for any reason.

“Any reason” in this case seems to be that I won more money than I lost. Staking $380 over six months for a return of $1257 makes me an unacceptable punter.

Here’s what I reckon, Trav:

  • If you have an online gambling account that hasn’t been closed or severely restricted, the company believes you are a loser.
  • It must be hard to win big with the types of bet I’ve been restricted to. That might explain why sports multis are advertised so heavily – they’re hard to win consistently and appeal to the most casual gamblers.
  • Independent bookies are obliged to bet to lose a certain amount (which could be around $1000-$5000 depending on the venue), while these corporates can do as they please. We grant these companies licences that allow them to fleece us without their having to take much risk in return. That’s inconsistent at best, and pokies-level shameful at worst.

I’m not complaining, Travis. Bet365 had the right to cut me off, and I knew it – I’d heard the stories and wanted to see it for myself. The governments that grant licences under such terms ought to pull their bloody socks up, though. And the next time you’re projected onto a building would you let your fellow members know that they’re being treated like mugs?

Favourite songs of 2016

  1. Mitski – Your Best American Girl
  2. Har Mar Superstar – I Hope
  3. Margaret Glaspy – You and I
  4. Radiohead – Burn the Witch
  5. Lucy Dacus – I Don’t Wanna Be Funny Anymore
  6. Miike Snow – Genghis Khan
  7. ANOHNI – Drone Bomb Me
  8. D.D Dumbo – Walrus
  9. Kishi Bashi – m’lover
  10. Let’s Eat Grandma – Rapunzel
  11. David Bowie – Lazarus
  12. Montaigne – Because I Love You
  13. Daniel Lanois, Rocco DeLuca – Deconstruction
  14. Sweet Jean – Everything Changes
  15. San Cisco – SloMo
  16. Teen Commandments – Big Old Brain
  17. Good Boy – Poverty Line
  18. Holy Holy – Elevator
  19. The Julie Ruin – I Decide
  20. Big Thief – Masterpiece
  21. Bossie – A Lot Like Love
  22. Gold Class – Kids On Fire
  23. Cousin Tony’s Brand New Firebird – Make It
  24. I Know Leopard – Rather Be Lonely
  25. William Crighton – Priest
  26. Mark Pritchard, Bibio – Give It Your Choir
  27. Metronomy, Robyn – Hang Me out to Dry (with Robyn)
  28. Sarah Blasko – I Wanna Be Your Man
  29. Shura – What’s It Gonna Be?
  30. Psychic Twin – Strangers


Spotify playlist

YouTube playlist

January 26

I didn’t submit my top ten to this year’s Hottest 100, since I don’t think Australia Day should be celebrated as long as it’s held on January 26th. Instead I voted only for A.B. Original – January 26. It’s an important message, but I also like the tune.