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An anti-football league!

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Ok, so you thought I was taking things too far…

It’s taken me a while to get around to linking to and dissecting this article, but it caught my mind then, and continues to stimulate my thinking now. A warning that the image may offend some viewers!

Where it all began

It appears as thought the Australian Football League wasn’t the first institution to claim the acronym (great word!) ‘AFL’. The ‘Anti-Football League’ was established in 1967, some 20-odd years before the-then Victorian Football League moved from being the VFL to the AFL, with the inclusion of the West Coast Eagles and the Brisbane Bears.

It was borne out of the seemingly suffocating levels of coverage of and interest in a game of sport.

Look, I still love the game, and will go back to it to some degree once May 24, 2012, swings around, but the article makes four pretty sound points.

1.  Saturation

It’s funny that this was an issue in 1967! Then, there were 12 teams in Melbourne, a Final four, and tv and media coverage like we have today was unthinkable.

Now, real issues such as global warming and the state of our environment, our current and ever-worsening economic crisis and the growing global food shortage are pushed to the back burners while real issues like players betting $20 on one of their games, which coach is out, in or in a secret board meeting or whether player X’s knee will hold up for this week’s game is scrutinised to the nth degree.

I even commented on this in one of my first posts (and one of my favourite titles since I started posting!), that we are less interested and educated in important and transcendent issues than ever before; an indictment considering our free access to information.

2.  Connectivity

Whether I am too connected was another issue that I faced early on in this journey. With the rise and rise of smartphones, non-stop net access and the proliferation of analysis and recap shows, it’s hard to stay away from the great game. It’s no wonder this raises the ire of those who would otherwise be indifferent to it.

‘Moderation’ is the theme that has kept coming back to me these last 169 days. ‘Get a grip, keep it in perspective and find a healthy balance.’ Admittedly, this becomes an increasingly difficult/impossible proposition with the constant access to and discussion of news, issues and scores.

3.  Gambling

Australians bet more money per capita on sport than any other country in the world. $300 million a year on football alone. Yet no, we can’t afford ‘all’ the refugees that are saturating our shores. Forget the fact that this pushes us closer to the sad state of cricket, where God knows how many games have been affected or altered by cheats. Don’t think it can’t happen in AFL. It can, and possibly has.

This aspect of sport has infiltrated the mainstream like no other. Even ‘Fantasy Football’ competitions such as ‘Dream Team’ and ‘SuperCoach’ bring new aspects to immerse ourselves in – the uber-important things like, you know, how many kicks and handballs so-and-so got. And God help you if a coach decides to rest a player – ‘The AFL should investigate! Don’t they know that it’s our Finals this week!’ Please…

4.  Boofheads

I’ll have to limit my word count on this paragraph. The example that the linked article gave in this sphere of someone who was anti-football was a homophobic slur + an invite to head to Afghanistan. Hilarious. It’s pretty well accepted that it’s un-Australian not to follow a footy team. Even Adelaide Crows fans have picked one.

I’m lucky enough not to fall into this category. Even people who find out that I’m going a year without sport see it as a temporary season of madness before common sense kicks back in.

But for the majority (of men, it seems) who don’t follow a team, there is something intrinsically wrong with them. Questions arise, eyebrows are raised, character is questioned.

Lawn bowls?!

Look, I’m not equating the best game in the world to the importance of ‘lawn bowls, royal tennis or squash’, but the last 5+ months have given me a unique opportunity to witness how sport and, in this part of the world, football, has overtaken the mainstream landscape like no other issue. None.

Believe me , try avoiding, like I have, sports media, scores or issues for any set period of time, and you will experience what I speak of.

I won’t be joining the original ‘AFL’, but they, and others, have a voice worth listening to.


About petek8

Pete Evans has just finished going 12 months without watching any sport. The journey stemmed from a sense that the balance was out-of-whack with my time and my priorities. Everything seemed to revolve around creating enough time and space to fit in the last game, games, recap shows or space to surf the net for the latest numbers and analysis. The cycle never ends - one season leads into another, seasons overlap if you follow various sports and the media's insatiable appetite for a new 'story' means that even the greatest of achievements aren't heralded for more than 3 days. So I stepped away from the machine for awhile and intentionally engaging with the journey by writing about it.

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