AFL Seeks Ways to Increase International Awareness

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The short format AFLX competition has generated some less than short discussions about making Australian Rules football an international game.

There are logistic issues aplenty, but in the world of professional sports, emphasis on the professional, money is often the only antidote needed to overcome any obstacles, whether it is logistics, player workloads or sponsorship.

It would seem, from an objective perspective, that exporting the game to other countries is most challenging from a geographical perspective.

Australia is a long way from anywhere. Attempts by the NFL to play actual games in London and Mexico have not proven that the rest of the world hungers for NFL gridiron. The season past, games in London and Mexico City drew spectators, but it is easy to imagine that once the novelty wears off, the demand would drop off.

NFL teams that have made the trip to England to play seldom represent the best of the NFL and players have been more than a bit vocal about the eight and 10-hour plane rides and the resultant jet lag of crossing multiple time zones twice in the span of a week.

Then again, there are those who said that Major League Soccer could never make it in the U.S., but the league is now 25 years old and seems to be firmly established to the degree that U.S. dollars are a strong lure for players, who in the previous generation, would not be caught playing soccer in the U.S. for love or money.

The main thrust behind movements to expand Australian Rules to other places seems to be a mimicking of the Big Bash League, where cricket players find an extra outlet for honing their skills and a new source of income that would not otherwise be available.

The initial suggestion is for AFLX to make a base in Hong Kong, where games would be played following the AFL finals.

Considering that it is almost six months exactly between when the AFL bounces and the Grand Final is played, time is not exactly a limiting factor. Players from clubs that do not make the finals have an extra month.