"Footy Classified" is a TV footy panel show which has been around a long time now, and in the modern media landscape that is an achievement in itself.
Its most notable achievement otherwise has been to turn the business of 'hot takes' on the game into an artform. No one does faux controversy and making so little seem such a big deal as well as "Footy Class", as it likes to call itself as though it's a grumpy but much-loved old uncle popping in for a visit.
Put simply, outrage, whether genuine or concocted, sells. And so effectively has "Footy Classified" done it for so long that a host of other football media outlets have enthusiastically followed suit.
Indeed, there's so much to be outraged by that earlier this year, even when there were no actual games being played, the show managed to turn one episode per week into two, feasting on such weighty matters as whether Melbourne skipper Max Gawn's new hairstyle was a good look for a captain.
It was entirely predictable then that the show on Monday night would find a contrarian perspective on what appeared a genuine feel-good moment last Sunday when Bryce Gibbs' former Carlton teammates Kade Simpson and Marc Murphy chaired him from the ground.
It was brazen. Even Caroline Wilson, hardly a shrinking violet when it comes to courting controversy, seemed a little half-hearted in pushing this "not a good look" barrow. But not so Kane Cornes, whose enthusiastic embrace of the 'hot take' has helped him quickly establish his media brand.
Cornes, handed the still-new ball by 'skipper' Craig Hutchison with one of those: "So you're saying that (insert alleged atrocity) ...." leading questions, duly let rip on Carlton for having dared chair its former star off having been beaten, and the Blues' coach David Teague for not being upset with his players enough for doing so.
The "grab" was created, quickly posted on social media, and the outrage clearly sought delivered by the thousands of views, Cornes' name still trending on Twitter come Tuesday morning. Bingo. Job done.
"There is only one thing in the world worse than being talked about, and that is not being talked about," said the late playwright Oscar Wilde, famously. And never has it been more apt than applied to today's football media.
A similar dynamic can be observed in Channel Seven's approach to contemporary football commentary.
Seven has quite deliberately turned the dial markedly towards entertainment and away from serious discussion during game commentary, and if you need proof, you need only jump on Twitter during a match on Friday evenings, when at least half the comments will be about the call, not the game itself.
An #AFLDraft special! The team is joined by @ChrisDoerreESPN— footytips (@footytips) December 7, 2020
and @championdata's Christian Joly to chat:
🦠 COVID curveballs
🧐 A top 20 phantom draft
📈 Risers and sliders
👀 Ranking the No. 1 picks since 2000
Stream the latest @ESPNAusNZ#AFL pod herehttps://t.co/XHlrbAAC7Y
Brian Taylor has proved a very polarising figure in the commentary box, but for Seven that has meant only a win-win. There are plenty who enjoy the revelry, self-referencing and catchphrases between he and Bruce McAvaney. But even those who don't, remain a captive audience (if they still want to watch the game). And the more vocal their displeasure, the more publicity generated via social media, word of mouth or the now old-fashioned 'water cooler talk', potentially generating more viewers through the 'what's all the fuss about?' vibe.
Fox Footy knows the score, too. It has invested heavily in a large roll call of former players and media types as commentators and analysts, and these days gets a lot more bang for its buck, most notably on its website, much of the 'news' content generated simple rehashes of 'quotable quotes' from its own staff on various programs.
On Monday, it ran a story quoting the comments from radio station Triple M's breakfast show of one of its callers, Eddie McGuire, on the comments of Essendon coach John Worsfold at a post-match media conference.
It's becoming like football media's version of Russian dolls. And yes, I am aware of inherent irony of this piece doing similarly.
But for all of those increasingly agitated by the modern lack of considered football discussion, ironically, despite the saturation of football media, a solution may not be easily found.
Are there actually enough of the disillusioned willing to push the stop button on the clickbait merry-go-round in the interests of more game-focussed and more considered content? Well, certainly not those in a position to do something about it.
It might be for all the wrong reasons but clearly, clickbait rates. Not enough people are prepared to ignore it. Calling it out merely adds more fuel to the fire. And, depending on your view, either the ante continues to be upped or the bar lowered as a consequence.
Moments such as the response to Gibbs being chaired off last Sunday make you wonder whether there actually is a line to be crossed, a point at which even the most gullible football fan spots the ridiculously contrived nature of a 'debate' and ceases to engage with it.
*You can read more of Rohan Connolly's work at footyology.com.au