The Sportress Formula: Predicting AFL Season 2017


The AFL season is three weeks old and I don’t know about you, but my tipping in 2017 has been nothing short of abysmal. A remarkable beginning to the year has seen some drastic changes in fortune for many teams both upwards and downwards. Social media has been awash with Hawks scarves dumped at charity stores and talk of Richmond fans enquiring about grand final tickets after 3 wins from 3 starts.


The prevailing wisdom is that this kind of response to early season results is a knee jerk reaction. The AFL season is a marathon, not a sprint, with many a week left to make up for a poor start or conversely, stutter and fall after a blistering opening. While this may be the consensus view, does history actually back this feeling up? Should we retain faith in perennial heavyweights Sydney and Hawthorn regaining their ‘rightful’ position, or should Richmond, Port Adelaide and Essendon fans cancel their September holiday plans and St Kilda’s brains trust start imagining a top 4 pick coming their way from Hawthorn at seasons end?

Well for those of you who can’t wait until September to find out, The Sportress will save you the trouble. Countless hours of trawling through the archives has, apart from giving our researchers a much-needed outlet for their Microsoft Excel skills, unearthed the probability of each team winning the flag, making the finals, or ending up in the bottom four. The formula, a little like the Coca Cola recipe, is a closely guarded secret and known only by a select few living human beings. All that these lucky few will reveal is that is calculated using each final ladder positions since 2000, they refuse to confirm or deny whether it also includes the subtraction of the number of spanners in a Sidchrome spanner set.

After 3 Rounds and 2 games, The Sportress formula has ruled Sydney, Hawthorn and North Melbourne out of Premiership calculations. For Swans and Kangaroos fans the news gets worse, at 0-4 their probability of playing finals footy are also adjudged at 0% too. It probably doesn’t take a super-secret formula to work this out, no team in the 21st Century has recovered from the Swans’ position to play finals.

While quite happy to put the red line through teams, the formula is a little less definitive when it comes to locking teams into the 8. Although less definitive, with probabilities adjudged at over 75%, Adelaide, Richmond, Geelong, and West Coast fans would be wise to start saving their pennies so that they are prepared for the shock of finals ticket prices. If the Crows, Tigers, and Cats can improve to 4-0, since 2000 only 3 teams have failed to translate this position into a spot in the Final 8 at season’s end.

Many of the other probabilities are a little more volatile and readily affected by one weekend’s result. So for this reason, and to limit the alienation of supporter groups to the 3 whose premiership chances we’ve discounted, it might be best to leave our analysis here. Be sure to check in over the weeks ahead though as The Sportress Formula does its best Nostradamus impersonation and tells you what to expect in AFL Season 2017.

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