Trading places


I love my sport.  Whether it’s Rugby League, AFL, basketball, tennis… anything really, chances are you’ll find me either glued to a TV screen watching it, attending the match cheering, or reading about it online.

The last point is an interesting one though.  To me, the analysis and discussion surrounding sport is almost as fun as sport itself!

Video games have caught onto this by allowing you to not only play the sports, but be a team’s manager too.  In fact, some soccer video games don’t allow you to play the ‘game’ at all. 

Rather, they allow you to make personnel decisions, improve the stadium, raise or lower ticket prices, sign sponsors etc.  You’re nothing more than the team’s General Manager.

And people love these things!  Which got me thinking, if there’s one off-field trend most Australian sports are yet to embrace, it’s trading players.

For example, in less than three days in the USA, Carmelo Anthony (one of the best players in the NBA) was traded from Denver to New York.  While the basketball world was struggling to digest this, Deron Williams (another great player) was traded in the blink of an eye from Utah to New Jersey.  Then, before I could say “Jerry Sloan”, I discovered that Baron Davis and Mo Williams had switched teams.

Whoa, whoa, WHOA!

To put this in perspective, it would be the equivalent of, in the middle of the 2011 Rugby League season, Jarred Hayne suddenly being traded for multiple players to the Broncos, followed quickly by Mark Gasnier being traded to the Raiders, and then Benji Marshall and Todd Carney switching teams.

All within a week.  All in the middle of the season.

Can you imagine what the reaction would be?  The sub-editors at The Daily Telegraph would likely have a heart attack.  Fox Sports News would likely go into meltdown. Phil Gould's head could explode.  And the Sydney Morning Herald website would crash faster than Lindsay Lohan on a big night out (or as she calls them: Thursdays).

Yet in the USA, this isn’t just a random event.  It’s pretty much par for the course each season.  The handling of players as ‘assets’ rather than ‘people’ has taken off to the point of absurdity.

But, just thinking about it, how much more interesting would Rugby League, AFL and Super 15 be if there was mid-season player movement?

What if you woke up on Monday morning after round 11 of the AFL to discover Jonathan Brown had been traded for 4 players from West Coast?

What if you were at work and you suddenly got an SMS from a friend saying, “Matt Gitaeu just got traded to the Chiefs!”

I’m not going to lie.  I reckon that would be pretty awesome.  It would add a whole new dynamic to the fan player relationship.

Think about a player like Wendell Sailor.  He switched teams and codes a bunch of times and managed to get loads of his former fans off-side.  But what if he had no say in the matter?  Imagine if in 2000, Wendell had been traded from the Broncos for Ryan Girdler in a massive mid-season trade?

How would the Bronco’s fans have reacted then?  Sure he’d be in a different uniform, but if he had no say in the matter, would they cheer him instead for years of loyal service?  Would the Broncos still have won that year if they had Girdler instead of Sailor?

So many questions!  I love thinking about that stuff.

Plus, if a team trades for a popular player, think of the marketing possibilities!  Suddenly you have a new jersey to sell that fans will gobble up.  Don’t forget the new posters.  Ticket sales might increase.  It’s the ultimate way of arresting a mid-season form slump.

If Australian sport wants to get to the next level and get even bigger buy-in from its fans, I reckon the off-field management needs to go to the next level.  I want to see players traded from one team to another in the blink of an eye.

Now, to start some discussion: who says no to this trade?  Benji Marshall for Jarred Hayne.  Parramatta or the Tigers?

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The Carmelo Anthony and Deron Williams
trades sent shockwaves through the NBA

A mid-season Rugby League trade would likely
event in Phil Gould's head exploding.