Have you ever seen Australian Rules Football? It is an exciting and distinctive Australian brand of football. It is the most popular sport in Australia and its popularity and ability to generate revenue is only increasing.
History of Australian Rules Football and the AFL
“Aussie” Rules Football began in Melbourne as a way to keep cricket players fit in the winter. The rules of the game were first codified in 1859, which makes Aussie Rules one of the oldest football codes in the world, older even than soccer. As the sport began in Melbourne, the strongest and wealthiest of the clubs were based in Victoria. The Victorian Football League (VFL) was founded in 1896 with 8 clubs. By 1925, the league had amassed 12 teams. In the 1950s, the league felt the urge to promote the game nationally and in 1952 on Queen’s Birthday weekend, held every match that round outside Melbourne for the first time. In the 1960s, television began to bring the sport to the masses. If you’ve never been to a game, but do have some familiarity with the sport, you know how vital television is to growing and maintaining its fanbase.
In the 1980s, the VFL had solidified its dominance over the other state leagues in Australia and saw the opportunity to take their league national. The South Melbourne Swans moved to Sydney, becoming the first VFL club to relocate to another state. The West Coast Eagles and Brisbane Bears were admitted to the league as expansion clubs in 1987. Now having clubs spanning Australia from east to west, the Victorian Football League changed its name in 1990 to the Australian Football League. Today, there are 18 clubs. Northern Territory, Australian Capital Territory, and Tasmania are the only states or territories without clubs.
The Rules of “Aussie” Rules Football
Both the field of play and the ball are oval in shape. A game is composed of four quarters with a timekeeper stopping the clock for stoppages in play. At the professional level, quarters last 20 minutes. At each end of the field, there are two tall posts. These are the goal posts. Kicking the ball between these posts results in getting 6 points for your team. On each side of the two tall posts, there is a shorter post. These are called behind posts. Kicking the ball between a behind post and a goal post results in scoring 1 point for your team. A behind can also be scored if the ball hits a goal post, or if the ball passes through the goal posts after:
- the player directs the ball through with a body part other than a foot
- an opponent touches the ball with any body part, including a foot
Popularity of the AFL
Despite the sport’s humble beginnings as mere exercise for cricket players, the AFL is now nearly five times as popular as cricket in terms of unique spectators. It is also the most-watched sport on television in Australia. The AFL is the fourth most attended sports league in the world. Not content with dominating the Australian market, the AFL is seeking to expand its fanbase to New Zealand. The AFL is also seeking to increase its following among women. In Queensland, where rugby league has traditionally been more popular, Aussie rules is said to have pulled even or even surpassed rugby league.
How Much Money Does the AFL Earn?
The AFL is the highest revenue generator of all Australian sports leagues. At $425 million, the AFL generates more revenue than NRL and Cricket Australia combined. Annual betting on the AFL is currently $900 million and this is expected to double in the next five years. Fans do this online by utilizing betting websites, placing the live bet on their chosen teams.
Australian Rules Football is an exciting sport to watch. It is a distinctively Australian sport, and yet it has many enthusiasts outside Australia. Whether you are going to a match, watching the matches at home, or watching the games in your local pub with your friends and fellow supporters, Aussie rules football can be great fun. This is a sport with a long tradition and an even brighter future.