Battle Of The Sportsball Codes

Battle Of The Sportsball Codes
Matho gets out the shotgun Image: Chris Hyde/Getty Images

The AFL season starts on Thursday evening, we’re a few rounds into the 2018 NRL season and the A-League is drawing to a close. If I had to guess, I’d say right now is peak sportsball season in Australia.

So which game is best?

I’m not going to try and hide my bias here. I’ve been a Brisbane Lions tragic in the AFL since before they were the Lions.

‘Tragic’ is the only way to describe us Lions fans. We’ve been starved of success for over a decade. But you don’t change teams just because they suck. It’s not how being a fan works.

I was there for the first game under the lights at the Gabba. I was behind the goals when Shaun Smith took the mark of the century. I almost had my hand broken by Clark Keating after the 2003 Grand Final.

Now it’s time to ride out the prolonged period of suck. At least there’s the AFLX victory from earlier this year, even if that form of the game boils down to ‘give it to the guy who can bomb it 60m’.

Despite being born and raised in Brisbane, NRL never worked for me. People would get amped up for Origin. I would watch with Roy and HG on the radio giving commentary. It never clicked for me. I was even lucky enough to get free tickets to Alfie Langer’s retirement game yet I remember more about the free box of Rose chocolates than the game itself.

Yet watching the AFL was a totally different experience. Even with all of the suckiness I’ve had to endure as a Lions fan – and it’s a lot – there are glimmers of hope.

Moments of desperation where the team comes together and does something special. Moments like the Miracle on Grass.

These moments exist in other games. I don’t see them. I don’t have the attachment to the teams to make them special.

You can’t stop me from loving the AFL.

Oh and there’s also soccer. Which I guess is fine.

Tell me I’m wrong. Tell me you back the superior game.


  • As much as I enjoy watching soccer and gridiron, AFL will always be the football code of my heart (and, honestly, it’s just so much more watchable than either of those sports).

    The best part of the footy season kicking off is Gerard and Robbo back on Fox Footy for 360. I don’t know what it is about that show but I just really like watching it.

    Anyway yeah, this year is gonna be the year of the Hawk etc etc.

  • There is to much physical activity in this article, back to Video Games, Anime and Pop culture please.

    • If we’re using that metric, then I choose NFL 🙂

      (although if soccer/football fans use that metric, it would surely win)

      • AND, if we are talking average attendance over a season the AFL is still right up there all around the world. AFL -35K plus average. NHL is only around 18-19K and soccer premier league average is 38K

        Thats across all grounds over an entire season. Obviously doesn’t include tv viewers

        • NFL still dominates. Average attendance per game in the season just gone: 67405. Down on previous seasons, but still pretty impressive. Add to that sell out games at college level and it’s hard to beat.

    • AFL is rubbish on tv, hence the bums on seats. League is good live or on tv, hence our better tv numbers.

      • Disagree. but fair enough

        I think you’ll find that Victorians just LOVE going to sports events more than most others states.

        Formula 1, Tennis Aus open, MOTO GP etc. etc

    • NRL is for the bogans.
      Rugby is for the privileged.
      AFL is for the hipsters.
      Football is for the hooligans.
      NFL is for the Americans.
      Rocket League is for the nerds.

        • 😀 I can see that comparison…

          I’ve seen it on the telly a bit in documentaries or news features, but never gone to watch. Although it’s appearing a lot more in my feeds since Jordan Raskopoulos took it up… 🙂

      • They certainly destroyed it in WA. 🙁 Maybe the new ARU board will do better. But they need to expand opportunities for players not restrict them. The NRC needs more support and to stop being (completely) a trial ground for new laws.

  • AFL is hands down the best game in the world!

    ‘Carn the TIGES! Back to back!

    That being said, nothing tops the World Cup as a spectacle, regardless of how useless the Socceroos are.

  • NBL in the Summer, AFL in the Winter.

    I also got into the Big Bash this season as well.

    however i also follow the NHL, but that doesn’t have a ball?

  • I remember watching the “Miracle on Grass” live on TV, and even as a neutral (for that game) supporter I was jumping up off the couch at that finale.

    AFL. With Gridiron second from when I was much much younger (being born in New England I’m legally required to go for the Patriots)

    • I was on a plane when it happened. Got off, turned on my phone to a shitload of texts from my mates. Not as good as seeing it live but holy shit, right?

      • Going back a ways, I remember something similar in 2000. Essendon were well on their way to an undefeated season, comfortably taking care of Carlton in round 20 (their only real competition that season) before facing Footscray the following week.

        As a Dogs supporter, I’d been talking them up for weeks, saying to anyone in earshot they’d break the streak, and end their undefeated season. At 3/4 time, Essendon were up by 15 or so and I think they kicked the first goal in the 4th before the Dogs kicked the last 5 to win by 11.

        Was such a good feeling walking into work the next Monday. Still got the game on tape somewhere, though I don’t have a VHS to play it on…

        • That Essendon-Dogs game is one of the greatest single games of football I’ve ever seen. The Dogs stayed in touch all game and managed to exploit any weakness Essendon had.

    • You must resist the urge to support those lying, cheating, scumbag Patriots! It’s bad for your soul. You should follow a team that is pure of heart and intention like my beloved Dolphins. That fact that they’ve stunk up the place since Marino retired is a minor detail rendered insignificant by the beautiful, aqua and orange benevolence that is the Dolphins of Miami!

  • For me it’s NBA. Love watching the Celtics play and just having a game on in the background as I’m working.

    For Aussie sports though it’s afl. Though that’s pretty much required being a Victorian

    • If only I could give u an upvote for both the nba and the celtics ????????
      This is me until the playoffs, at which point I watch almost every game like a hawk damn it

  • AFL for the win for sure.
    It’s fast paced, its brutal, its articulate and action packed.
    Rugby… no tactics, bunch of blokes running into each other.
    Soccer… Soooo boring, they need to implement point posts to stop the draws.
    NFL…. so little action, so much waiting.

    • …and with AFL they run along chasing after the ball like a bunch of idiots and they give you a point if you miss the goal.

      There are plenty of tactics in both forms of rugby if you choose to pay attention.

      • They introduced the point after to many drawn games, other sports could learn from this… Don’t they chase the ball like a bunch if idiots in rugby?

  • Can we please stop using the term “Sportsball”? It’s the fucking worst like we all know what each code is called, you wouldn’t click on this article if you didn’t. Rant over.

    Its AFL by the way.

  • AFL is a at fundamental play level in 2 large aspects, either boring and/or messy to watch.

    It’s mostly either Passing to a another through kicking which pauses play a lot and creates a lot of suspension, with next targets chosen with a kick then catch able to pause again. Soccer doesn’t have that and it’s why skills and possession in soccer is far more refined level and movement is encouragage more so. But also Soccer has a stupid offside rule which is a terrible idea.
    (Soccer is not a sport I enjoyed watching that much either. )

    Then in AFL theres the awful mess of ruck where it’s just plain sloppy and annoying to watch.

    Those two aspects dominate AFL and that makes it unenjoyable to watch, live or on TV.

    • Offside is very sensible in principle – it prevents goal hanging and keeps players moving. It’s hard to referee in practice though.

    • Yes but at least afl provides plenty of scoring, not that I’m a huge fan but whenever I watch soccer I am treated to bloody 0 all draws!!
      It’s why nba is my fave sport, lots of scoring and quickly

    • Fun fact: AFL is the only football code that *doesn’t* have an offside rule. (Well maybe Gaelic football doesn’t either, but I don’t know much about that game)

      It’s a weird quirk of AFL that, to score points, you kick towards your own goal rather than your opponent’s goal like in other football codes.

  • Soccer all day err day for me. Although I don’t mind watching the other sports ball every now and then.

  • AFL, for the pace, ground coverage, and pure spectacle of the live game.

    BUT the NRL state of origin is THE premier sporting event in the country. The best players in each position face off against each other (well, not always if they’re both from the same state, but close enough), and they genuinely care about the game and hurt badly if they lose. Amazing.

  • It’s Aussie Rules for me though I enjoy League and Soccer as well. I appreciate other codes like Union and NFL but they’re both a little slow for me.

  • Union. The Super Rugby is in full swing, and the Australian teams are doing well. I’ve never missed a Melbourne Rebels home game and I’ve been to away games in WA, QLD, ACT, NST, New Zealand and Japan…

    Although I do enjoy the football: I’m a Melbourne Victory member too. And a Carlton member… 😀

  • In order:

    AFL – I’m from WA, it’s in my DNA
    NFL – It’s tactical, it’s spectacular, it’s fast, it’s fun
    Rugby – Fast flowing, tough, tactical
    League – A bit stop start (I know, I know – NFL), played by idiots, fun for a change
    Soccer – boring as batshit. No wonder they have a culture of crowd violence. If the ball is round, pick it up, bounce it and throw it through a hoop.

  • I dont mind watching AFL. But it does not interest me. Having been to europe Football/Soccer is my favourite mostly due to the atmosphere. Nothing beats a going to a liverpool match where the entire stadium is signing “You will never walk alone”. The Melbourne Victory V Liverpool match at the MCG was amazing.

  • I like AFL in the winter, but my real love is baseball. MLB and ABL (Red Sox and Bite respectively) and I play baseball in the summer as well. It’s the beautiful game.

  • Even with all of the suckiness I’ve had to endure as a Lions fan – and it’s a lot – there are glimmers of hope.

    Yeah, those glimmers of hope are called Lions v Carlton games.

  • Basketball, ya spuds. I physically can’t bring myself to watch anything else anymore.

    I’m a Wildcats tragic in the NBL (fight me) and a lowkey Golden State/Knicks fan in the NBA depending on who’s playing.

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