Oh what a long Cricket season it has been. The homeless Pakistanis offered scant resistance while frankly, the Windies blow. The A-League continues to cure insomnia across the nation and only the antics of some of the more foolish footballers across the land offered any real respite from the Summer of our discontent.

The happy month of February has arrived and a young man’s fancy turns to Football. The NAB Cup is always a highly anticipated event until we all remember just how far it has departed from the game we will be witnessing during the Winter months. The NAB Cup is Football Jim, but not as we know it. NABasketball has arrived.

This year’s model retains the ridiculous notion of the nine pointer which still hasn’t been brought into league football so why does it remain in the NAB Cup? This year’s new rules include increased powers for Boundary Umpires, who despite having four of them still can’t seem to keep up. If they are good enough to call a decision from over 50 metres away perhaps it’s time we got them out in the middle. I do like the notion of letting players decide the advantage after getting a free kick as it is a real grey area in Footy that needs to be addressed.

Hawthorn Intra-Club Match

However for every one good rule they pluck out there are often many others that are reactions to previous years’ failed efforts. The players can adapt faster than the rules committee and will find ways ‘around’ new rules, thus effectively nullifying any intentions they might have originally had. The rules committee, while attempting to justify their positions sacrifice interpretative consistency as their latest misguided efforts make life more difficult for the embattled umpiring fraternity.

In years gone by it was far more simple – you reward the player who goes for the ball, if he takes on the tackler but fails to get by you ping him as long as the tackle is a fair one. In came the NAB inspired rules from the experimental ink pot and all of a sudden we’ve got this year’s brainwave, pinging the player who drags the ball under the tackled player. This was brought in because rules were introduced that penalised the player going for the ball. Instead of introducing yet another rule to make life even tougher for umpires, why not just revert to the traditional interpretation?

The problem for the AFL is that the only people who haven’t caught on to the fact that NABasketball is a farce is the AFL itself. The coaches don’t care about the NAB Cup and neither do the fans once they see that first or second match. How can we hang out all summer for our game and then be bored by its first offering in a single weekend? Because NABasketball is not Football and everyone knows it…except Andy and the boys.

Every February we give Rugby League and particularly Rugby Union a massive free kick by trotting out NABasketball. NABasketball is a basket case that is in need of a remodeling, and the way to do that is to revert it back to the sport that we love…..Football.