Sport AFL Peter Schwab on AFL: Don’t change me

Peter Schwab on AFL: Don’t change me

Lance Franklin Sydney
Is this guy not entertaining enough? Photo: Getty
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A lot of people are not happy with me at the moment. They say I used to be so good, even great.

They say I still have moments of sheer exhilaration, even brilliance, but lately I am considered to be terrible, boring and defensive.

I am a bit confused. I have been criticised so much lately that I cannot even remember who I am at times or what I should be like.

I thought I was doing what I had always done, but apparently it just is not working any more.

Those who believe in me say I have allowed myself to be hijacked by a whole range of different people.

All those different people say they love me, but it seems they want to change me to love me. And I can’t stop them from changing me. Things are in motion.

I have been around a long time. I am not saying I have not changed along the way. I knew I had to evolve to make myself better. I believe most of the changes have improved me.

But it seems it has come to a serious situation now. I need intervention.

Otherwise, people won’t watch me on television, and if that happens it is serious. Really serious. And I will be in deep trouble.

The thing is, I never asked to be on television. When I first started, television had not even been invented. I was always about connecting into my community, wherever that community was.

But then my popularity spread and I became huge. People saw a vision for me. I could be important all around Australia. Better still, I could make money for a lot of people.

I was hugely popular in Victoria, Tasmania, South Australia, Western Australia and the Northern Territory.

But for some reason I’ve struggled in Queensland and New South Wales for most of my life.

There is someone else up there who is more popular than me. That is life, I suppose.

State of Origin
Rugby league dominates in the northern states. Photo: Getty

They are not the same as I am, but that is OK. Sometimes people want different things. Although for people in the north, I am the one who is different.

I am owned now, too.

I cannot recall selling myself or that I was even up for sale, but apparently I was.

An organisation called the AFL claimed ownership over me, I became theirs and they decided what I was and where I could go.

They are now the ones who want to change me. They are thinking about intervention. They have so many people who think they know what is best for me. To make me like I was. I am not even sure what they want to make me like.

Is it the me of the 1980s, 1990s or even 10 years ago? Or is it something new? A bigger, better version of myself?

When I asked the question as to who is best placed to decide on me, I was told it was a commission at the AFL. A group of people will vote on what changes I should adopt to be better.

It is funny how everyone thinks they know what I should be doing to be better, exciting and even spectacular.

But it has been made clear I cannot go on as I am.

And that is a bit sad. I like to think I could just evolve. Who is to say I won’t be loved again or won’t find my mojo?

Everyone has a bad patch. That is life. It is an up-and-down existence.

At times like this, I am envious of my friend soccer. She is adored worldwide. She has this great party every four years. She is at one at the moment in Russia and it is going really well.

And you know what? She has hardly changed in all the time I have known her.

Peter Schwab played 171 VFL/AFL matches for Hawthorn from 1980 to 1991, winning three premierships. He later served as Hawthorn coach, AFL National Umpiring director, AFL Match Review Panel chairman and Brisbane Lions list manager

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