Americans embrace Australian 'footy' leagues
With most sports leagues around the globe shut down due to the coronavirus pandemic, American sports fans turned their attention to the only live action available this past weekend – Australian Rules Football (AFL) and Australia’s National Rugby League (NRL) competition!
The AFL, or Aussie Rules football as it’s known Down Under, launched its season behind closed doors on Thursday morning with the annual match-up between the Richmond Tigers and Carlton Blues.
Eight more games were played across the opening round, and by Saturday, social media was abuzz with American fans who were tuning into the games.
Former NFL punter, Pat McAfee, was just one of many newly converted AFL fans, and in a video posted on his Twitter account, he even declared, “It might be my favorite sport I’ve ever seen in my entire life.”
Australia’s other popular football league, the NRL, continued the second round of its new Rugby League season with eight games played across the weekend.
Two-time Super Bowl winner, Chris Long, discussed both the AFL and NRL on his podcast prior to the weekend.
What position would @JOEL9ONE play if he were lining up in the @NRL?@TheBrownAndrew reckons there's definitely room for him in the forward pack!— BetAmerica (@BetAmerica) March 20, 2020
If you don't know what that means, you're not the only one, but you should watch the full show to find out: https://t.co/AVrP2ip2Yy pic.twitter.com/ah6ESylNjP
Another fan watching the NRL for the first time saw his tweet about the game not only go viral online, but also get picked up by the Australian media.
Unfortunately, the fun was only short-lived. By Monday, both the AFL and NRL had succumbed to the same fate as many other sports leagues around the globe, forced to suspend their seasons until further notice due to the coronavirus pandemic.
What became evident over this past weekend, however, is that there may be a future for the two Australian sports in the hearts and minds of Americans when play eventually resumes.
With BetAmerica offering multiple markets on each AFL and NRL game and the ability for Americans to watch live via streaming services and some networks, millions of new fans may be tuning in for each respective code’s Super Bowl, or Grand Final, come October.