[Linux-aus] Should we change? Yes. To change is to grow.

Russell Stuart russell-linuxaus at stuart.id.au
Mon Apr 30 20:25:48 EST 2012

On Mon, 2012-04-30 at 17:57 +1000, James Polley wrote:

> No. The "AFL Commission" is *not* "the AFL peak body", which is what
> you were asking about.

This is as you said pointless irrelevant pedantry, but you've force me
to go looking.  As far as I can tell you are wrong.  The peak body is
the AFL Commission.

Before going on I'd recommend others following along don't read on, but
I'll just point out the relevance to this discussion is no one
apparently knows who that peak body is - which sort of drums home the
point that the name of the peak body doesn't matter that much to its
success.  The awareness the AFL brand carries must drive people to seek
out and participate in their local clubs - not seek out the governing
body.  In LA's case you want awareness of open source to cause people to
seek out clubs, conferences, and organisations like the Ada Initiative.

But back to the "AFL Commission" is the peak body thing.  (Bianca if you
are still reading at this point it's your own fault.)  I can almost hear
you objecting strongly to this, but before more emails are sent I'll ask
you to read the references.  First, please do read the Wikipedia pages
on the organisation [0] and the competition [1].  Two quotes stand out:

- In its role as national and international governing body, the AFL
Commission also controls and delegates development funding for
Australian state and international bodies and leagues.

So it controls the money.  That sounds like a peak body, but one
possible way it may not be is the people running it are appointed by an
even peaker body.  But no, from the same page:

- Commissioners are elected by the 18 AFL clubs, who each are entitled
to make nominations. Should an election be necessary, then the
membership is decided by a vote of the AFL clubs. 

Now I realise I realise you are right in that there is a company called
the Australian Football League and its name and ACN appears on a whole
pile of documents relating to the AFL including club agreements, and
recently the Optus DVR decision.  That might mean it is a peak body, but
it also might mean it is just an entity created by the AFL Commission to
do it's bidding - maybe for legal reasons.

To figure out which, you have to look at the political structure.  The
AFL looks to be a ground up organisation.  Originally there were clubs.
The clubs formed an incorporation to organise games.  It was originally
called the VFL, later renamed to the AFL.  You would expect the clubs to
maintain tight control over this organisation as after all they created
it to service their needs.  They did this by ensuring then people who
ran it were nominated and elected by them.  Then in 1993 as [2]
explains, that incorporated entity disbanded itself and ceded power to
the AFL Commission which is also run by people exclusively elected by
the clubs.

The point being the AFL is ultimately operated by the clubs - and that
is unlikely to change.  So if the company is the peak body it must also
be owned an operated by the clubs, so the clubs must elect two sets of
people - one set to operate the AFL Commission, and one to operate the
company.  This sounds like an inefficient way of doing things - it would
be far easier to just have the AFL Commission own the company.  Since I
can't find a single document that says the company is the peak body, for
now I'm going with that arrangement.

Gad this is off getting topic, but I think how other successful
organisations operate is relevant.  What happened in the lead up to 1993
is interesting.  It appears a decade before the then VFL board decided
to offload all the grunge work of actually organising the competition to
the AFL commission.  (If you have kids you will know this really *is*
grunge work - organising grounds, time tables, coaches, getting players
from A to B, publishing results, fighting over the best way to deploy
funding.  It's time consuming mind numbing stuff.)  I'd even guess they
justified it by saying they were freeing themselves to do the important
"visionary stuff".  But in the end it is the grunge work that matters.
If the competition and clubs work the organisation will grow through its
grass roots.  That is, after all, the only way an organisation like the
AFL or indeed LA can grow.  But if that is what the grunge work
accomplishes, what is the point of the visionary stuff?  After a decade
or so on the spin off eat its mother.

[0] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/AFL_Commission

[1] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Australian_rules_football

[2] http://www.afl.com.au/news/newsarticle/tabid/208/newsid/2504/default.aspx

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