Midnight Oil

[Powderworks] NMOC: Australian Professional Sports

Jeff and Jane Scott jscott@iinet.net.au
Sun, 16 Feb 2003 10:09:46 +0800

At 15-02-03 09:46 AM -0800, Randy Van Vliet wrote:
>I've been scanning some Australian news sources (by
>the way, what's the deal with the detention centers
>that people keep breaking out of?  Are they holding
>immagrants under armed guard?  and if so, for what
>purpose and how long?)

Basically they are held (1) until their identity, origin and claim for 
refugee status is assessed (which takes far too long); or (2) their claim 
for refugee status has been rejected and they are awaiting deportation and 
going through the appeal process (which involves lawyers so you can guess 
how long that takes; or (3) they have been in Australia for some time and 
have had their visa cancelled due to committing serious offences or some 
such thing, and are to be deported (doesn't usually take more than a few days).

The escapees usually come from group (2) or (3).

>Anyway, I naturally tend to scan the sports pages even
>though I don't know squat about Australian sports.
>I've looked up some references to Cricket and Rugby
>and the AFL.  So here's my question:  Are there
>national professional sports in Australia?
>I don't want to waste too much of your time, but I am
>sort of a sports junkie (at least US sports) and I'm
>sort of fascinated by how it's structured in
>Austarlia.  I've decided that I want to follow the AFL
>this season and I clearly don't have any rooting
>interest in any team.  Does anyone outside of
>Melbourne and the few other teams care that much about
>it?  I'm just wondering.

OK... it's a long story but here's a brief version.  Aussie rules football 
originated in Melbourne around the 1850's.  In 1896 the Victorian Football 
League was established.  Aussie rules also spread to become the dominant 
football code in Western Australia, South Australia and Tasmania.  In New 
south Wales and Queensland rugby league is the dominant code.  In 1982 the 
VFL team South Melbourne relocated to Sydney in order to save themselves 
from bankruptcy and to promote the game in Sydney.  In the late 80's, the 
VFL was expanded by the addition of a team from Perth and a team from 
Brisbane.  In the 90's two teams from Adelaide and a second WA team, 
Fremantle, also joined the competition which was renamed the Australian 
Football League.  So it created the lopsided situation where the national 
competition has ten teams from Victoria and six from the rest of the 
country.  It's not the way you'd do it if you were building a league from 
scratch, but it does mean that over a hundred years of rivalries and 
history remains in the current competition.  Teams like Essendon, Carlton 
and Melbourne have been playing each other since 1896, and there are 
families who have literally been following their team for generations.

In the long term future, it is likely that the financial reality of having 
so many teams in Melbourne will force a few of those teams to the wall, and 
they will either relocate or be replaced by other teams from around the 
country.  Sydney remains very much a rugby league stronghold.  Brisbane is 
still primarily a league town, but the recent success of the Brisbane Lions 
in the AFL has seen Aussie Rules grow significantly there.

The only other question you need answered is "Which team should I 
support?", and the answer to that is the West Coast Eagles (Perth).

As far as other national leagues go, the national cricket competitions are 
state based and have been around a long time.  However the most interest in 
those competitions is that they are used as a breeding ground for players 
for the national side.  (Your team - Western Australia - "The Western 

The NRL (rugby league) was expanding wonderfully in the mid-90's, until 
Kerry Packer's "Superleague" concept split the league.  A lot of 
traditional followers of the game were turned away, as were a lot of "new" 
followers in the expansion states, and the NRL hasn't yet recovered if 
indeed it ever will.  (Your team - none.  Used to be the Western Reds but 
they got the axe in the Superleague fiasco)

The National Soccer League - well, the controlling body of Australian 
Soccer seem to be the most incompetent people around, so although in theory 
this league should do well, they are always teetering on the edge of 
financial disaster.  (Your team - Perth Glory, well known for dominating 
the season then choking at the final hurdle)

The National Basketball League hit a peak in the late 80's/early 90's and 
looked like becoming a dominant player in the sports market.  I don't 
really know why, but people just lost interest in the mid 90's.  It seems 
to be picking up a bit again now.  (Your team - Perth Wildcats)

That's about it really.  Other sports have a "National League" of sorts, 
but I can't think of any where it is  at a professional level.