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The glory or the ‘gravel’: What keeps fans flocking to the AFL?

Wickham, G. (2015) The glory or the ‘gravel’: What keeps fans flocking to the AFL? The Conversation, 2 October 2015 .

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The Australian Football League’s (AFL) fan base keeps growing and growing, whether measured by total attendances, total TV audiences, or the billions of dollars the league is able to command for its “product”. So what is it the barrackers are getting that keeps them coming back?

You only have to be at a game for a few minutes, or observe the way dedicated fans watch on TV or mobile phones or listen on radio, to see that footy adds a lot of passion to a lot of lives. That’s important, but it’s not all that footy serves up. It also promotes a bizarre type of optimism that serves society well, the type of “keep going no matter what the odds” mentality that Australia has relied upon in the darkest times of its short history, especially the two world wars and the great depression.

By this mentality, gathering glory is not the be all and end all of a life well lived – that’s sometimes frowned upon. What’s much more important is the stoic willingness to stare down hard times by shovelling gravel (usually only metaphorically) in the hope of building something better, even if the “better” turns out to be more shovelling alongside other like-minded people.

Publication Type: Non-refereed Article
Murdoch Affiliation: School of Arts
Publisher: The Conversation Media Group
Copyright: The Author
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