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Australian Rules Football is one of the most popular sports in Australia. Comparatively, for the rest of the world, it is largely unknown, although there has been a surge in popularity over the years. Some examples of other countries where it is fairly popular are the UK where there are 49 clubs, while Japan has 15 clubs and the US has 36 clubs.

Why is it so popular in Australia and why is it a better sport than you may think?


For one it is a tactical sport with 18 players on each team on the field at one time. Each player has a specific role in the game and it takes a lot of strategies for each team to determine how best to utilize their players and these tactics change depending on which team they are playing.


It is a full-contact sport. The players do not use helmets or shoulder pads like American football. Instead, they go head-to-head using shorts and a guernsey as their only protection. There are a lot of tackles involved whether it is vying for the ball or preventing a player from taking a mark. Speckys, short for spectacular marks, are exceptionally impressive which is where a player is about to mark a ball but another player jumps on his back and makes the mark instead. There have been some legendary ones over the years since the first that was recorded in the 1880s.  There are injuries, for sure, but the umpires on the field are there to enforce rules and stop any excess physicality.


Aussie rules are a fast-paced game. There is no constant stopping and starting like American football, which only has an average of 11 minutes of actual play out of a 60-minute game. There is more actual game time in Aussie rules and keeps the game exciting to watch.


The players have respect for the game and are generally respectful to each other, although rivalries do occur between players which can get heated at times. AFL has been around for over 160 years and a lot of legendary rivalries have cropped up between teams over that time. This creates excitement for supporters who look forward to games between decades-long rivals. Supporters often intensely study the odds on the AFL in the hope of winning some money by backing their favorite teams and goal kickers, this all adds to the excitement of a game and the sport as a whole.


The general atmosphere, especially during the finals, is something that is also not as widely known around the world compared to the Superbowl or the Soccer World Cup, which is a shame because all over Australia, supporters are rife with excitement and revelry. Fans pile into the stadiums to cheer their teams on and either leave sorely disappointed or ecstatic for the next finals round.  When it comes to the actual Grand Final in Melbourne, the entire day is celebrated, beginning with a Grand Final Day parade that runs through the CBD and ends with a concert in the evening. The entire country is excited to watch the game no matter who is playing just to see the culmination of the season.

So there are some of the things that indicate that Australian Rules Football is a much better game than you might think. If you have not heard of or watched the game before, then it’s well worth checking out a match to see if you enjoy it.

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