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A Milestone for AFANA.com
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In April 2006, AFANA debuted the current web platform for this web site. It was a radical change for us and a big step forward. We're pleased to say that this is the 10,000th article posted to the site since that time. We hope you've found our work valuable. Our team have lots of great content to bring you in the future. As we approach the 22nd Grand Final we have seen as an organization, we trust we have helped you Get Your Footy!

-Rob de Santos
Founder and former Chairman

-Paat Kelly
Chief Executive Officer
AFANA

Australian Football on US Television in 2016 and the Future
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(This is the first in a series of long form editorials on the state of footy on TV in 2016 and the future outlook.) A long time ago in TV world far, far away, a small group of passionate AFL fans managed to get the AFL and ESPN together and save the weekly highlights coverage on US and Canadian television. It was an early and largely unnoticed accomplishment of the internet age as e-mail and newsgroups were the media used to launch coordinated action. Looking back, it was an amazing achievement in 1995-1996. It also was the catalyst for the formation of AFANA.

Over the past 20 years we’ve evolved from lobbying by fans to more sophisticated ways of attempting to drive the AFL’s TV strategy (with varying degrees of success). We’ve successfully helped steer them to new TV homes for the sport when old ones blew up on us. We’ve succeeded in keeping it on the air for 21 seasons without fail. Now, we have to decide what we do in 2016 and beyond. The answers for 1996 and 2006 no longer are the right ones. The TV market has changed. The fan base has changed. The AFL is far more media savvy than before and nominally, has an “international” strategy (although fans and marketing seem not to be a big part of that). We must change our tactics and strategy to deal with the AFL, TV networks, and fan development to match the world as it is in 2016.

Let’s take a look at the US landscape today (we’ll deal with Canada and Mexico in a future article):

Announcement on Future Direction of AFANA
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AFANA issued the following statement today:

In accordance with the following notice, a search committee was formed today to plan the succession in leadership for AFANA from 2017. Members of that committee will be announced shortly. The committee will make further statements on its plans and progress at a later date.

On January 3rd, Chief Executive Officer Rob de Santos sent an official notice to the Board and the volunteer staff which read, in part:

Fellow AFANAns,

A new number is on my calendar and it repeats every day: 2016. AFANA is in its 21st year and it will, by all indications, be a year of change. ...

This will be my last full year of daily involvement with AFANA as 2017 will bring ... my relocation to another part of the globe.

Where's Footy Going in North America Now?
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An editorial from the Chairman of AFANA on the future of Australian football in North America.

A week ago the first American, born and raised in the United States, make it to the top level of football down under. I hope that these closing weeks of the AFL season will see Jason Holmes (and perhaps Mason Cox, also) do enough to stay there in coming seasons. It's been a long wait. Twenty years for fans. We've also seen the conclusion of a huge new domestic TV contract for the AFL. It's also a milestone year for AFANA. Two decades of promoting the growth of Aussie rules in North America. From scrambling to save one hour of one week delayed highlights on US / Canadian television back in 1996 to having 12 hours per week of live coverage in the USA & 3 hours in per week in Canada plus highlights and repeats now. We have seen six networks come and go in that time. It's been a long journey.

The Multicultural Fans
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The AFL recently held its annual "multicultural round" and made a big splash by offering commentary in a second language for all of the matches. While it might be news to fans down under, alternate language broadcasts are not news to fans in North America. If you check our TV schedules, even occasionally, you have probably noticed listings in French and Spanish. The changes in the way we list telecasts in recent years has made that possible. At AFANA, we're committed to supporting fans who watch in languages other than English and living in North America.

We Sure Do Miss You Andrew! Not!
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Two years ago, AFANA published an editorial concerning the double talk about international development emanating from AFL executives. (See Confusion or Deception: Mixed Messages from AFL) A year ago, Mr. Demetriou retired from his post as CEO of the AFL. He's mostly been out of the spotlight since but popped up recently to offer his view of the future of the game (Aussie Rules on brink of going global: Demetriou). It seems that a year away has cleared up his foggy lenses. Now he is saying the game is on the brink of going global. If that surprises you, you can only imagine our amusement.

AFL Drug Policy, Essendon, and Predictable Outcomes
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This is an editorial from the chairman of AFANA regarding the Essendon drug scandal.

There is a saying that true insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result. If so, where the AFL and its clubs find themselves today is a predictable outcome. Watching the Essendon supplements saga from a distance has been a long and torturous road with the end results (and we're far from the end) yet to be written.

Before offering my analysis of the scandal, let's look at the AFL drug policy. On paper, the idea seems well meant. Test players for the use of performance enhancing drugs (PEDs) and for use of illegal "recreational" drugs (though any addict will tell it becomes occupational when it dominates your life) and treat those players. As much as legally possible, keep the results secret until a third offense and treat the players in private. Don't tell anyone beyond the doctors and selected league or club officials of the results and certainly don't publicize them. As a general practice, this is what some of my former employers did and it makes sense, but only to a point and if administered honestly.

Making North Americans Serious Fans of Aussie Rules
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For nearly two decades, our mission at AFANA has been to bring "footy", the colloquial term for Australian football, to audiences in the USA and Canada. We've had some success at that, but we are still a long way from breaking through to widespread knowledge and understanding. The TV audience and exposure have come a long way in just the last few years but we haven't yet reached acceptance as a serious sport in the American landscape. To get there, we have to do more and this year we have launched a variety of initiatives to take the next step. You've seen a few of those changes with the web site and our increased presence in social media. Part of the job is education of the fans and media.

If you want to understand why it is important that we educate fans and journalists in North America about Australian football consider this quote:

Confusion or Deception: Mixed Messages from AFL
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(Ed. note: the following is an editorial from the management of AFANA in response to recent public statements of the AFL CEO.)

Once again, the AFL has muddied the waters and discouraged those working to develop the game internationally  It reinforces the feeling that the AFL talks out of both sides of its mouth. Fans outside Australia are left wondering if they matter to anyone at the AFL headquarters.

Recently, AFL CEO Andrew Demetriou, as reported by the Australian Associated Press and the Melbourne Age newspaper, told the American Chamber of Commerce in Melbourne that the AFL does not plan on being an "international sport". Our

Editorial: Did The AFL Fail Footy In The USA?
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(This editorial is in response to the following post on the site of usfootynews.com: AFL Decision Fails Sport in USA.)(Ed. note: Link removed as no longer works as of Apr. 2013)

Our friend Wayne Kraska at usfootynews.com recently posted an editorial on why he feels the AFL has failed the sport of Australian football in the USA with it's latest TV contract with Fox Sports Plus (announcement here).  Considering his arguments and those of the many fans who commented here on this site, on our Facebook page, and in e-mails to us, I felt it was appropriate to respond. 

At the outset, I want every reader to know that I am sympathetic to the fans who feel the sport took a backward step with this new deal.  In some ways, that may be true.  I understand the frustration of fans who cannot get or afford to subscribe to Fox Sports Plus (FSP).  I also believe that there is a lack of understanding by many of the realities the AFL faced, the alternatives available, and the history of both recent events and those since 1980 when the AFL first appeared on the then nascent network ESPN.  

I want to address Wayne's key points because he raises some that many other fans have expressed.

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