Expansion How the AFL Tried, Failed, and Keeps Trying To Break Into the US

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The_Wookie

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Thread starter Moderator #3
Interesting article, but at odds with the headline, the article pretty much states that the AFL is not trying.
The AFL has never really tried outside of exhibition games. Minimal funding is provided, in the vicinity of around 40k a year from memory, and they briefly offered some funding for a kids program in 2002 which lasted 6 months. Whether a lack of AFL branding (ie. AFL USA like AFL Canada, AFL Britain etc etc) is responsible for that Im not sure.
 

madmug

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#4
The AFL has never really tried outside of exhibition games. Minimal funding is provided, in the vicinity of around 40k a year from memory, and they briefly offered some funding for a kids program in 2002 which lasted 6 months. Whether a lack of AFL branding (ie. AFL USA like AFL Canada, AFL Britain etc etc) is responsible for that Im not sure.
I think their interest in the US is more their about junket, sorry 'study' trips to clear & improve the Commissioners minds after a tough year counting their Commissioner fees. Its a tough job but someone has to do it. ;)
 

Big Blood

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#5
Interesting article, but at odds with the headline, the article pretty much states that the AFL is not trying.
Thank you for reading the article. Er, I haven't but I'm still going to comment... to say AFL's expansion abroad is a story in itself. In the last dozen years I can think of Africa, China and New Zealand. Maybe there was a fling at PNG along the way.

It's no different from any other business. If it is solely domestically-focused it is going to struggle when it goes abroad because it requires a different mindset, different set of skills (ie, experts) and some sustained investment and strategy. All those things that our glorified suburban comp doesn't do.
 

NoobPie

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#6
Thank you for reading the article. Er, I haven't but I'm still going to comment... to say AFL's expansion abroad is a story in itself. In the last dozen years I can think of Africa, China and New Zealand. Maybe there was a fling at PNG along the way.

It's no different from any other business. If it is solely domestically-focused it is going to struggle when it goes abroad because it requires a different mindset, different set of skills (ie, experts) and some sustained investment and strategy. All those things that our glorified suburban comp doesn't do.
...or out "glorified suburban comp" absolutely does this/is doing this in NSW and QLD which is where it's a priority. I.e, the overwhelming strategic priority of the AFL - to continually and aggressively deepen its footprint north east of the Barrassi line

None of the places you mentioned have had any significant financial outlay from the AFL.

China is Port Adelaide's venture primarily and it seems it has very skillfully crafted and implemented a strategy which leverages government and business objectives to make it commercial.

South Africa was, for a time, supported by the federal government and NZ has a modest investment which seems like it is paying incremental dividends

The bottom line is the AFL is clearly not going to expose itself to strategies of millions of dollars a year, spread thinly over the 7 billion peoples that live outside of Australia, to just as likely do little but replace existing volunteer effort.
 
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#7
What a strange strange article. No surprise for VICE. Their editors want their own opinions heard but are pretty average readers and writers in their own right.

This is an article about a bunch of random people, ex-pats or bored Americans, playing Aussie Rules in Brooklyn. What does that have to do with expansion? Or the AFL? The AFL isn't doing this themselves. It's privately organised. The title and vibe is like 'the AFL is pumping thousands into getting the game going over there, they want a presence, maybe a team, LA Crocs!' but the story is about a bunch of people who want some funding for their mickey-mouse shit. Maybe don't like in New York City if you want to play social Aussie Rules and feel weird about how there's no one else to play, so you have to travel to do it. Entitled privileged flogs.
 

threenewpadlocks

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#8
What I find strange in discussion around footy and the USA is the inherent advantage that the club culture has in the states.

Athletes in the states lack that genuine friendly club environment, where they're funnelled through a competitive high school and college system and then their recreational sports has less organisational structure through member run, organised clubs.

If you follow the USAFL players a lot of them are ex-college athletes who grew up playing multiple sports and stick around with footy because of the new friends and communities they develop. They should be selling that angle as a point of difference against other US sports. But they don't.
 

Gigantor

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What I find strange in discussion around footy and the USA is the inherent advantage that the club culture has in the states.

Athletes in the states lack that genuine friendly club environment, where they're funnelled through a competitive high school and college system and then their recreational sports has less organisational structure through member run, organised clubs.

If you follow the USAFL players a lot of them are ex-college athletes who grew up playing multiple sports and stick around with footy because of the new friends and communities they develop. They should be selling that angle as a point of difference against other US sports. But they don't.
Anytime you read about what americans enjoy about playing aussie rules, both the men and women, the club culture is generally at the very top.
 

HairyO

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#10
What a strange strange article. No surprise for VICE. Their editors want their own opinions heard but are pretty average readers and writers in their own right.

This is an article about a bunch of random people, ex-pats or bored Americans, playing Aussie Rules in Brooklyn. What does that have to do with expansion? Or the AFL? The AFL isn't doing this themselves. It's privately organised. The title and vibe is like 'the AFL is pumping thousands into getting the game going over there, they want a presence, maybe a team, LA Crocs!' but the story is about a bunch of people who want some funding for their mickey-mouse shit. Maybe don't like in New York City if you want to play social Aussie Rules and feel weird about how there's no one else to play, so you have to travel to do it. Entitled privileged flogs.
So really it should be about Aussie Rules overseas and not the AFL overseas.
 
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#11
So really it should be about Aussie Rules overseas and not the AFL overseas.
But then it's like, 'tried and failed.'

How's it failed? It's a bunch of ex-pats hung up on the game who probably just want to get pissed with a bunch of other dickhead Aussies. For that, it's served its purpose. Boo hoo they have to pay to go interstate and play a game... people in Australia have to pay to play the game! It reads like an intended charity piece.

It's just a weird article.
 

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Bomberboyokay

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#12
Commentary would need to improve markedly to have any chance. Watch the NFL and they're not randomly yelling, doing catchphrases and trying to make themselves the star of the show. Brian Taylor is antithetical to a serious approach.
 
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#13
Lets compare the USA to Canada. The Canadians do organised Australian Football games better because;
a) they have a culture of amateur sports compared to the yanks, where if you dont play a team sport at a US college you stop playing team sports when you finish high school, so they don't have much of a history of amateur leagues. Pick up basketball teams, leagues is one exception, but they tend not to be well structured leagues.

b) In Ontario/ Toronto you have had a league of more than one or two teams since it formed in 1989. A mate I used to play footy back with at Adelaide Uni, helped set up the league in Toronto. I was in Toronto in 1988 - he was transferred to the Geology department at Uni of Toronto in late 1985, think he is still there, and we played 3 games of Gaelic footy in the summer of 1988 with Irish expats, other expats and a few Canadians. In March 1989 he rang me and said a few Aussies were meeting to try to set up a couple of teams and if I wanted to come along. I said no, as I was returning to Oz in a couple of weeks time after spending almost a year in Canada.

They now have a 10 team league with 7 teams in greater Toronto area, one in Hamilton which is like Geelong distance to Melbourne, one in the University town of Guelph about 100kms west so a bit like Ballarat to Melbourne, and Ottawa about 300-350 kms east of Toronto.

So if you live in Toronto you can have a game every week with only really one big driving trip to Ottawa to play. Its tough for the Ottawa team as they drive 300-450 kms x 2, every second week.

Toronto also has the advantage that Aussie-X which became X-movement after they went on Dragons Den and got a $150k investment 7 years ago, started there and has worked its way thru 300,000+ school kids in Ontario. Aussie-X teaches Aussie Rules, Cricket (big sub continent immigration sector in Toronto/Ontario and Canada generally) and Netball. The X-movement is about using sports, dance, movement in general, to help kids get engaged in education. Aussie-X used sports as a vehicle to help students, not a vehicle to teach Aussie sports to Canadians. See figures below.

The other Canadian "leagues" are only 1 or 2 team leagues and those teams have to travel large distances to play a game or to the nationals.

Toronto has a lot of Aussies living there and Canadians who have traveled to Australia and as both countries having strong mining industries, so a lot of mining company HQ's are in Toronto, Aussie mining professionals end up there in decent numbers, SE Ontario - the Golden Horseshoe area has 12m people about 6m in greater Toronto and lots of Universities that Aussies go to, there are large amount of school teacher exchanges between the two countries and its easy to get a 1 year work visa between the 2 countries for under 30's

In the USA you only have one or two teams in a big city so you have to jump on a plane to go play a game for some teams every second week. That's bloody expensive for an amateur sport.

For the game to prosper in the US, you probably need to pick a city where there are lots of Aussies, there are big sports fields available, lots of locals who have traveled to Oz, plough in some decent $$ and have another big city not too far away. You need the Aussies to kick start it, but you need the locals to engage for it to work. That's whats worked well in Toronto where maximum team membership for Aussies is 50%. Plus you would base it around universities because they have the facilities. Not every team but a few of them.

LA and California would seem a logical choice to me to try to develop the US using the Toronto / Ontario model.

The Aussie diaspora in USA is about 150,000 people. About 40,000 in LA, 20,000 in San Francisco and 20,000 each in of New York and Washington.

Currently there are 2 teams in LA - LA Dagons and Orange County Bombers. 2 hours drive south, there is a team in San Diego, and a 6 or 7 hours drive north, there is a team San Francisco and a team in Sacramento.

So if you could push game development to be 6 to 8 teams in greater LA, 2 or 3 in San Diego, 4 or 5 in San Francisco and 1 or 2 in Sacramento you have a lot greater base to grow the game seriously from, where people can drive to the majority of their games not have to jump on a plane.

Not saying it would be easy, but you gotta make it cost effective for people to take up and play a new sport. Having to jump on a plane every second week to play a game you are just learning isn't very appealing.

Here are the Canadian participation numbers the Wookie put up in the 2017 participation thread on this board.





 
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