I was recently reading some sporting survey results on the viewing habits of Australian sports fans. I wasn’t at all surprised to find that Australian Rules overwhelming wins the football TV ratings wars. It has also historically always been the most popular when it comes to attendance. Its popularity lays in its indigenous broad appeal. Its appeal to women, its athleticism, intensity, body contact, dazzling skills and an ambiguous set of rules that lead to a hatred of those who officiate.
Of course team rivalry is legendary and this is often enhanced by what would seem to be the most unfair sports scoring system in the world. It is however one that enables your team to achieve victory from a long way behind.
Soccer people would counter that by saying that their game is truly international. And so it is, but in Australia it has struggled to gain a foothold and has suffered many setbacks over a long period. My view has always been that it’s a game that just doesn’t suit the Aussie psyche.
Unlike our Prime Minister we are not a negative bunch and soccer comes over that way. I mean in what other code can a team play better than its opponent and still lose? Or be so inconclusive that a result is determined at the end of the match with a method unrelated to the general play. It is boring, as is the depressing slowness of play. I have always been intrigued by the lack of barracking. The absence of crowd noise. I was listening to a broadcast of a match on the ABC last Sunday and the commentators seemed to be lost for words for something to describe.
And of course we take our Aussie rules seriously but we don’t go to war over it.
Soccer has the largest participation of all the codes which doesn’t surprise me. Mothers like it because it’s less physical. It is of course skilful in its own right but clearly doesn’t match it with Aussie rules.
I was in a conversation with an Englishwomen a couple of years ago who insisted that soccer players spent hours honing their skills. “No doubt they do” I said. I then went on to point out to her that Australian rules players have to be able to kick the ball both short and long distances accurately. And with either foot. They had to be able to catch the ball overhead or on their chest and often with one hand. They also had to be proficient at bouncing an oval ball while running at full pace, and they had to predict where this oval ball might head when it hits the ground. Added to that they also needed to be able to hand ball (more than just a political skill) the ball with either hand. All this needed to be accomplished on a very large playing arena for much longer periods than the other codes. This of course requires a level of anaerobic and aerobic fitness unmatched by the other codes. Sure there are different types of fitness.
Rugby for example requires a lot of strength because they just seem to pick up the ball and run into the next person with all the force they can muster. Both sides seem to be intent on inflicting as much physical pain as possible. The man seems to be the target and the ball seems to have little to do with it. Much of the physical contact is more aptly suited for the boxing ring that a sporting field.
I recall watching a TV program once when a Rugby player was asked how much time was spent practicing the skills. “Not much” he said. “There aren’t many”.
Now there may be nuances, or redeeming features that have escaped me but for the life of me I cannot see the sense in just running headlong into some over developed burly testosterone filled individual just for the sake of it.
Of course from the female point of view (so my wife tells me) the youngsters of Aussie Rules are much more attractive than those of their counterparts. Added to that (again my wife tells me) is that their arses are much more attractive. On the down side she said were the increasing preponderance of beards and “look at me” tatts.
Last year at the MCG I happened to sit next to two very well educated ladies from the USA who were doing research at Melbourne University. It was their third match and they had already attached themselves to the Geelong Cats, which also happened to be my team. They had, in a short space of time become totality devoted. “It has some sort of masculine sexuality associated with it” one of them said to me. They were amazed at how many women attended.
“You wouldn’t get so many women interested in the States” said the other.
Now look I could go on forever about the best game in the world but I had better stop. Well one more thing. A few years ago during a finals win my wife and I went to see Billy Joel at Rod Laver Arena and on the Friday night we went to see Swan Lake at the Concert Hall. Then on the Saturday it was the MCG to see the mighty Cats defeat North Melbourne by a point. The highlight of the week.
Just as an aside. Did you know that as many people attend the arts precinct in Melbourne as the yearly attendance at the MCG? This of course makes it not only the sporting capital of Australia but also the cultural capital.
I only wrote this because I suggested to Michael that the blog could do with a sports writer.
Please note that my bias shall extend to the comments section. I will not be replying to any criticism. If it costs me friends. So be it.
The latest Roy Morgan Research shows that the AFL wins hands down on this front – 7.83 million Australians (41.0%) say they watch the AFL almost always or occasionally on TV, just ahead of Cricket – 7.43 million (38.9%). The nearest local challengers are Tennis – 6.83 million Australians (35.8%), the NRL – 6.73 million (35.3%) and Horse Racing – 6.32 million (33.1%). For a full analysis go here.
Prediction. Cats will win the Grand Final by 30 points.
Like what we do at The AIMN?
You’ll like it even more knowing that your donation will help us to keep up the good fight.
Chuck in a few bucks and see just how far it goes!
Your contribution to help with the running costs of this site will be gratefully accepted.
You can donate through PayPal or credit card via the button below, or donate via bank transfer: BSB: 062500; A/c no: 10495969
201 total views, 2 views today