One of the hardest things in life, right up there with trying to care about the Commonwealth Games, is ending a relationship.
It’s difficult for all involved. The tears, the sense that you’ll never love again and the remembering you used their Netflix and will now have to get your own account.
Technology seemed to offer a solution but unfortunately, society frowns on breaking up with someone via an Instagram post, even if the post is of a two really cute cats walking in separate directions.
Luckily, as with most things in life, sport has provided the answer through the system of free agency.
Free agency has been introduced across many sports, like the AFL and NRL, to provide a system to free players from a type of indentured slavery.
It, therefore, lends itself to personal relationships.
It takes the heat out of an awkward and emotional situation through a pre-agreed process.
If it can work for sport, it can work for relationships, after all, sport if a lot more important and emotional.
This idea is not without precedent. The AFL rookie list, where clubs can have a player while not officially having them in their senior team, is a perfect description of how most Tinder relationships work.
So how could the system work?
Length of time served
In Free Agency, how long you’ve been at a club determines whether you can walk straight out or whether your current club can match any offer put to you.
For example, if you have been with your club for seven years, you can field offers from other clubs. Your current club can match these offers though, and you have to stay. This is known as being a restricted free agent.
A player who’s been with a club for more than ten years is an unrestricted free agent and can just go to the club of their choosing.
How it Applies in Relationships:
Clearly, seven years and ten years is too long. This is the 21st century. We simply don’t have the attention spans for that sort of nonsense.
Therefore, the following timelines will apply to new relationships:
Restricted Free Agent- six months
Unrestricted Free Agent- 12 months
And the timelines for marriages:
Restricted Free Agent- five years.
Unrestricted Free Agent- seven years (breathing new life into the seven-year itch).
At any of these points, both parties may decide they don’t want to test free agency.
This is a good thing, the relationship will continue with both parties, as sitting down with someone and telling them you’re not going to test free agency is an incredibly romantic thing to say. Right up there with telling them you want to become a one-club player.
Unrestricted Free Agent
If one partner decides to leave as an unrestricted free agent after their allotted time, then all’s fair.
They can simply let the other person know with a media conference in which they can say things like ‘I’ve loved my time with Simon, who can forget the renovation of ’03 or the ’05 holiday to Iceland? But I’ve decided I needed a new challenge.”
No need to sit down and have a long, drawn out emotional confrontation.
The other partner can respond with a written statement.
“Karen has advised me of her desire to test the Free Agency market. While disappointed, I thank her for her work on the renovation of ’03. In anticipation of this development, I’ve been in discussions with several replacements and will have an announcement shortly.
No recourse, no crying, no attempted arson. Just a clean break.
Restricted Free Agent
This is where the fun starts. In these situations, you can field offers from other people. This will enable you to test your value in the market, as can your partner.
You can then both decide if you want to stay together, knowing full well what else is out there.
For starters, the year leading up to your restricted free agency could be fun for your friends who will speculate on what you’ll do.
“I understand Steve has a solid offer from Bianca and has already given verbal agreement.”
Leading you to issue statements like “I’m delighted with Sally at the moment and am just focusing on the upcoming week at home.”
Perth breakfast radio would have a field day.
Once you have triggered the Restricted Free Agency clause in your contract, you can then begin fielding offers.
For example, Kirsten has been dating Robert for six months. She has decided to test the market as a restricted free agent.
Her best offer is from Rupert, who works in some horrible consultancy firm.
Rupert has offered the following deal:
- Will tell her he loves her twice a day
- Pretend to get along with her friends
- Regular showering
- At least one romantic weekend away every six months
- Not forget her birthday for the first six years
Kirsten brings this deal back to Robert who has a week to respond.
Robert assesses that point 2 and point 3 are too high a price to pay and that he can get a similar girlfriend on the open market for less. Kirsten is now free to leave Robert for Rupert.
Of course, losing a Restricted Free agent is a blow, as in sport. Now Robert has to go and recruit through dating, which is awful. He is therefore entitled to compensation.
Robert therefore, as the person being left, gets the DVD box set of Grey's Anatomy that Kirsten left at his apartment and full custody of a pot plant they bought together at Bunnings.
The possibilities are endless, with new jobs being created for ‘agents’ who help negotiate your deal.
“I love you honey, and I hope our agents can manufacture a deal that suits both of us.”
So, there you have it. An age-old problem once again solved through the prism of sport.
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