Sack Steve Hocking

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Steve Hocking, as someone who played 199 games at the highest level, is always going to be a respected figure in the AFL. But as fans we want a General Manager of Football Operations who acts for the greater good of the game and footballing community.

To assume what the fans want is a sign of complacency and I hope this petition shows the AFL just how out of touch Hocking is with fans. Not only this, it seems that Hocking needs to constantly make changes to justify him holding his job and not to use his role for good. Is this because there's too much pressure for Hocking to hold his job? Who knows, but there is something wrong and we need to reset before damage happens.

Anyone who has used any social media in the last 48 hours would have seen the outroar over Hocking's ploy to make tackling "less of a feature of the game" and basically reduce tackling to something that is not a skill of our game. Brisbane Lion Mitch Robinson has publicly stated his opposition to Hocking's comments and a satirical Facebook event "Tackle Steve Hocking" has already attracted in excess of 4000 responses.

I know that it was a poor choice of words from Steve Hocking and that his goal is to reduce congestion in the game but even still someone with so much power of public voice should be able to communicate with fans much more clearly. The GM of Football Operations is not a position to mince words and make inferences, please just keep us all updated with actual changes and be open to feedback, negative or positive.

Reducing congestion has been a topical discussion for a while but I think right now the game is in a pretty good state. I don't know what this obsession is with needing high scoring, a good chasedown tackle can be as exciting as a goal.

Going further into Hocking's opinions on tackling, I think it's one of the best parts of our game and why the game has so much respect on a global scale. We've loved seeing everyone from Lenny Hayes to Anthony McDonald-Tipungwuti practice the art of tackling, and to say it "shouldn't neccesarily be a skill of our game" is just odd in a spectating sense and maybe even a bit disrespectful to the game and its players.

I know that Hocking is not trying to make AFL a non-contact sport but scrappy footy has a place in our game. Having the ball locked in builds tension, sometimes angst, but some of the best games have finished with a team forcing ball up after ball up in the last minutes to hang on by the skin of their teeth. I think Hocking has an idealistic kick-mark frenzy in his mind, almost like basketball where the game never stops, and he thinks that's what we want. If we wanted to see that we'd tune into team training sessions instead.

There have already been an influx of rule changes over the offseason to open the game up. They've already changed the game and it's flowed down to grassroots footy, just give it some time and let the rule changes take their effect.

Right now the game is in a good state; crowd numbers are through the roof, TV viewing numbers seem to be rising 10% each year and the competition is even. Collingwood vs West Coast last Friday was a game worthy of a grand final and there were no goals scored in the last 10 minutes. Teams are winning games scoring about 80 points and for me that's close to a perfect game. And the beauty is there's still shootouts some games or parts thereof and there's still low scoring scraps, the unpredictability makes our game an exciting spectacle.

But it seems the AFL looks at the present as a changing of the guard to the next generation of footy and they want to add every rule they can to safeguard and make sure the game is as close as it can be to their idealistic kick-mark footy spectacle. Because once it gets to that there won't need to be any more changes and the game will look after itself. But once it gets to that you've turned the game into the worst parts of soccer and basketball and lost the fans.

So I ask, please appoint a GM of Football Operations with a good scope of what the game needs and who can communicate well with the footballing world. Someone that looks at preservation of the game as important as change. Steve Hocking has a lot of football knowledge and could have a role within any club in the AFL, but I think he has shown he is not the right person to control how our game runs.