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How I became a footy fan
mgoblue's picture

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For those of you who don't know me, I'm Ben, one of the staff members here at AFANA and I thought I'd share a little bit about how I came about loving the sport of Australian Football.

Ever since I was a little kid, I've been infatuated with Australia. I think it began when my parents got me those animal fact cards that were all the rage back in the 70s. The animals that really caught my eye were the ones from Australia- the kangaroo, Tasmanian devil and Tasmanian wolf. I then got some books on the country and came across "Australian Football". Since I was really too young to comprehend much about sports, I just assumed it was a little different that American football and moved on.

Thoughts on Footy
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I have been a fan of Aussie Rules "footy" since I was a kid growing up in soccer crazy Manchester England.  Coming to America as an adult 20 odd years ago, I thought my days of watching "soccer" never mind footy were over.  I threw myself into USA sports, as I was living in New York, I went to watch the NY Mets, learned all there was to learn about the game, and the NY Knicks, going to Shea Stadium and Madison Sq Garden on a regular basis.  Then came satellite TV, and my oh my, I now get to watch more live soccer than my brother back in England does. Then came ESPN, and wow, footy, and later on Fox Sports World, and now Setanta has come to Direct TV, and I get to watch footy, LIVE!  Yeah, I don't get much sleep on Friday nights, but who cares.  I can watch it live, or I can Tivo it and watch it in the morning, (no chance of seeing the scores on regular sports shows here!  Sure, the choices of games could be better; sure the magpies could have been stronger in the finals.  Heck, Setanta and the AFL might fall out, and there could be no footy for me to watch next year.

One stoked Aussie!!!
Anonymous's picture

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I just found out that we will be able to watch the GF live this Friday night    Can't wait!!!  Anyone else going to be near Saskatoon SK for a GF party???

Viewing AFL Finals in Montana..
teddyruslip's picture

Just wondering if anyone knew where i could view the Finals in Montana US up the top here... The grandfinal also... nothing popping up anywhere

Is Australian Football Hard for North Americans to Understand?
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The question arises as a result of an article in the Winston-Salem Journal:  Nascar Nation: The sport that drives America .  In the article, H.A. "Humpy" Wheeler, a longtime NASCAR leader, is quoted as saying:  "...American sports fans want big things, they want heavyweights not featherweights, they want contact - American football not soccer. They want contact. And they want something easy to understand - don't give 'em cricket or Australian- rules football. And they want something unexpected - the Hail Mary pass, the sudden drama, the wreck, the crash, the last-lap pass.   More than anything, they want drama. They want a soap opera. And you couldn't write a soap opera better than NASCAR."

Mr. Wheeler raises two issues we need to consider to answer the question at hand:  Is Australian football actually hard for Americans and Canadians to understand and does it lack the other ingredients that Mr. Wheeler mentions?   We can dispose of the second part pretty easily.   The sport certainly has big players and great personalities.  It has lots of contact.  There is always the chance for the unexpected and there is drama.  So, if all that is true, that leaves the question of whether it is in fact too hard for Americans.  

For most people, once you get past the radical nature of how different it is than what you think of (as an American or Canadian) as football, it is a game you can appreciate almost immediately -- even before you know most of the rules.  And yes, there are rules.  AFANA offers a quick 2 page summary of what you need to know to begin to appreciate the sport.  It's called our Table Top Tent Guide.  Print it out and it will fold up nicely to sit right on your coffee table.

In fact, one of the things that we know about the sport is that once you expose people to it, it makes fans all on it's own.  The sport sells itself in many cases.  Does this mean you can "get it" by being a couch potato and just flipping through a few minutes of it while channel surfing?  I doubt it, but if you can explain the NASCAR points system and restrictor plates to me in less words than I can outline Australian football, I'll buy you the American beer of your choice.  If I win, I get Australian wine.  

It's easy to assume that because we all drive cars that we automatically recognize and understand modern racing but I suspect that is not entirely true.  It's also easy, for those with no knowledge at all of Australian football beyond an old Foster's commercial, to assume that this is some arcane, difficult to understand foreign sport.  That would also not be entirely true.   If you aren't interested in broadening your sporting horizons then I can't interest in you in anything beyond the sports you learned as a 10 year old.  But if that's the case, and you weren't born in a family of racing fans, then NASCAR will never get your attention either.

Australian football is not hard to understand.  All it takes is a little bit of interest and a few mintues with one of the many Americans and Canadians who are already passionate fans.

Australian football and labor history?
admincms's picture

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There is a fascinating article at:

http://libcom.org/history/1883-today-the-radical-history-of-aussie-rules-football

There's material there for use in our on-going series about the history of footy on this site and you may find it of interest just because it is unusual.   Complete with references.

Old Blog Revisited: The AFL and International Development
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Another entry from my old blog... updates are in color.

Melbourne Media Attitudes

Recently [2004], journalist Martin Flanagan addressed the AFL club presidents and CEOs.  An edited version of his speech is here::The meaning of football

In particular, I draw your attention to these paragraphs:  "The quandary facing Australian football is that we have a world-class game played,

Why AFANA Is Important Even If You Don't Get The Footy Now
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Just today, AFANA received yet more messages from Australian football fans which went like this:

"I haven't joined because I don't get Setanta on my cable system."   Which is not much more encouraging than the one that came in earlier:  "I just learned about the Internet connection to Setanta [ITVN] so I will be joining soon." 

So what would I like both of these prospective members to understand?

Old Blog Revisited: Pay or Free?
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The latest entry from my old blog with updates in color:

October 12, 2003

Pay or Free

Two issues that are at the heart of the future of footy in North America.   One is the future of AFANA and the other the future of TV coverage.  

As we plan the upgrade of the AFANA web site (the upgrade finally took place this past June in 2006!) and look toward 2004, one issue that keeps coming back is how long we can continue to make our web site available for free to all visitors.  It's been a point of pride with us that we have been able to develop this web site and provide the information we do for fans and do it without restricting the site only to members.  How much longer we can continue to do that is open to question.   (While no change is planned at present,

Old Blog Revisited: Failure of the WUSA and the Lessons for Aussie Rules
admincms's picture

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Another entry from my old blog... updates in color:

September 16, 2003

Failure of the WUSA and Lessons For Footy

As many sports fans have heard, the Women's professional soccer league, based in the US and known as the WUSA, has closed up shop just days before the [2003] Women's World Cup gets underway.  So what does that have to do with footy?

Everything.

The lessons to be learned in this reinforce everything AFANA has been trying to communicate to the AFL and those working to popularize footy both inside and outside North America since 1996.   The youth and young adult development programs in the US have brought millions of kids into playing a sport (soccer) which was unknown to most of my generation.  When I played soccer in high school, we weren't even recognized as an official sport.   All that's changed.  So why didn't sponsors, TV viewers, and live bodies in seats keep the Women's league going?   No, it is not as they will tell you, that they didn't get enough multi-million dollar sponsors, though that's true.   (When you lose $90 million of an initial $100 million investment you were more than a few sponsors short.)

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