Shit-hot take: FOMO and why the Lions will always suck if the AFL doesn’t help

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Dress like Fitzroy, play like Fitzroy.

FOMO. That’s what the kids call it. Fear Of Missing Out.

It’s normally used in the context of not going to Splendour in the Grass when all your mates are, or missing that sweet Instagram action from the group Sunday breakfast at Hipster Inc.

For Lions players, FOMO is significantly more serious. It’s the fear of missing out on their dreams.

Believe it or not, Victorian kids don’t dream of pulling on the Brisbane jumper and playing in front of 10,000 people at the Gabba.

They dream of a Collingwood jumper, or a Geelong jumper, or a Hawthorn jumper, and they want to play in front of 80,000 at the MCG. Or 50,000 at Adelaide Oval. Or even 40,000 at Subiaco.

They want to run out of the race and feel the passion reverberating around the stadium.

In the words of Dennis Denuto, they want “the vibe”.

Brisbane doesn’t have the vibe.

Don’t get me wrong, Brisbane is a hell of a city. But when I moved here from Geelong as a 25-year-old I was shocked at how different the culture is.

Obviously it’s an NRL city, but when northern friends used to tell me AFL fans were completely and utterly nuts, and that we treated the game like a religion, my standard response was “yeah, but you’d be the same with NRL”.

They’re not. Well they are – for three weeks of the year when Origin is on. But otherwise they seem reasonably ambivalent. It makes you realise just how obsessed Victorians are with our game and how difficult it is to adjust to a society that really doesn’t care about Aussie Rules.

For a 25-year-old who had grown up playing country footy and living briefly in footy-mad Geelong, it was homesick inducing.

For 18-year-olds who live, breathe and know nothing but footy, it is surely the most difficult and uncomfortable adjustment they’ve ever had to make in their young lives.

At the Lions, the proof is in the list management.

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James Aish during filming of the latest George Michael video clip.

Consider these names: James Aish, Jack Crisp, Billy Longer, Sam Docherty, Elliot Yeo, Jared Polec, Jack Redden and Lachie Henderson. These are the guys that the Lions hoped would be leading them to finals glory this season.

Instead, they’ve all gone south to chase their dreams of playing for big clubs in front of big crowds.

The Lions have learnt their lesson to an extent. In the last couple of seasons they’ve focused on snaring local young guns like Eric Hipwood and Ben Keays to eliminate the “go home” factor.

But at the same time they have guys like Lewis Taylor (Victoria), Tom Rockliff (Victoria) and Josh Green (Tasmania) asking for silly money to stay.

That’s where the AFL needs to help out. It’s a rubbish situation, but the only incentive for those guys to stay at Brisbane is cold hard cash – without it, they’ll bugger off to chase their childhood dreams and never look back. And you can’t blame them for doing so.

Without financial help from the league, these players will continue to go home. First it was Polec, Yeo and Aish. Then it will be Rockliff, Taylor and Green. Before long it will be Rhys Mathieson, Darcy Gardiner and Tom Cutler.

The AFL needs to throw cash at the Lions, because without it, the club will continue to be a victim of the dreaded FOMO for decades to come.

 

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