billsportsmaps.com

April 30, 2015

World football attendance by domestic leagues (2013-14 or 2014 figures, primarily) – chart of the top 25 highest-drawing pro leagues of association football [aka football, aka futbol, aka soccer]./ Plus a very brief look at the 3 countries that have led in crowd-size through the years (England, then Italy, and now Germany)./ Plus the Indian Super League, which is now [2014] the fourth-highest-drawing football league in the world.

Filed under: Attendance Maps & Charts — admin @ 11:20 pm




Links…
-Source of data, List of attendance figures at domestic professional sports leagues/Complete_table [with 2013-14 or 2014 figures, primarily] (en.wikipedia.org).
-European football attendances at E-F-S site, european-football-statistics.co.uk/attn.htm.
-Another good site for football attendances: soccerway.com [found atop league tables in the statistics sections at most league-pages there].

    Chart of the world’s top 25 highest-drawing pro leagues of association football (2013-14 or 2014 figures, primarily)

By Bill Turianski on 30 April 2015; twitter.com/billsportsmaps.com.

[Note: you can click on the illustration below to place it in a stand-alone page.]
world-football-attendances_25-highest-drawing-football-leagues_2013-14_no-1-is-bundesliga_f_.gif

My first version of this chart, which I made two years ago in May 2013, only went to 20 leagues, and the list only considered first division football leagues (with 2011-12 figures). You can see that chart {here}. This time, the list on the chart considers all association football leagues – not just each country’s top flight. I didn’t decide that – the folks who contributed to the list at Wikipedia did. And it makes sense (after all, if you are trying to determine the highest-drawing football leagues, why should you stop at only first division leagues?). So this chart includes the two highest-drawing second divisions in the world – Germany’s 2-Bundesliga, and England’s Football League Championship.

The attendance figures are primarily for the 2013-14 season, but there are a few exceptions…the Argentina Primera División attendance figure is from 2 seasons ago (2012-13), the Algerian Ligue Professionnelle attendance figure is from 6 seasons ago (2007-08), and the Indonesian Super League attendance figure is from 3 seasons ago (2010-11). I already knew there were no reliable attendance figures for Argentina for 2013-14; for Algeria and Indonesia, I tried, but I could not find any more recent figures reported. I decided to include both, but let’s just say there should be a “mental-asterisk” next to the Algerian and Indonesian attendance figures on the chart. (Note: there were a couple others that were not updated on the original list [which you can find at the link at the top of this post]. But I was able to find 2014 Chinese Super League attendances at that Wikipedia page {here}, and I found 2013-14 Turkish Süper Lig attendance at the E-F-S site {here}.)

Note: I added another detail this time to the chart – the populations of the countries. That can be found at the far right of the chart – the figures are from 2011 to 2015 {see each country’s page at Wikipedia for those figures}. On the chart, the country-populations are listed in millions (m), except for India and China, whose vast populations are listed in billions (bn).

    World football attendance leaders through the years…

England and its First Division led in attendance up to 1971-72 (for 74 seasons);
then Italy and its Serie A led in attendance from 1972-73 to 1993-94 (for 22 seasons);
and since 1994-95, Germany and its Bundesliga have led in attendance (for 21 seasons and counting…)

Germany has been #1 in attendance since 1994-95. Before that it was Italy. Originally, of course, it was England.

The English First Division had best crowd size from 1888-89 [when the Football League was formed], all the way to 1971-72. The highest league-average-attendance that the English top flight has ever had was in the third season back after the disruption caused by World War II – in 1948-49, when the First Division pulled in an average of 38,792 per game. That 38.7 K per game is to this day the highest crowd-size the English top flight has ever achieved. The second-best crowd-size in England was in the following season of 1949-50 (at 37,284). The third best English top-flight crowd-size was actually last season [2013-14], when the Premier League (est. 1992-93) had its highest-ever turnstile-count, at 36,670 per game. {Source: European Football Statistics site for those English figures as well as Italian and German figures mentioned below.}.

In 1972-73, Italy’s Serie A (at 32,176 per game) overtook England’s First Division (at 30,257 in 72/73). And the-best-drawing football league in the world was a distinction the Italian top flight held for 22 seasons. Italy remained king of football crowd-size all through the 1980s and into the early 1990s, peaking at 38,872 per game in 1984-85, and still drawing best overall for another 9 years, until Germany’s Bundesliga overtook Serie A as the top-drawing league in the world in 1994-95.

Germany’s Bundesliga is King. Period.
Germany’s Bundesliga has remained at the top of the attendance list since 94/95 – for 21 seasons now (counting 2014-15). The largest crowd-size in a Bundesliga season was in 2012-13, at 45,116 per game. (Last season [2013-14], the Bundesliga had its second-best crowd-size ever, at 43,499.) And the Bundesliga shows no signs of flagging, held back in aggregate crowd-size only by the fact that minnows constantly find a way into the Bundesliga for a year, and end up pulling the league-wide attendance figure down. Minnows like Greuther Fürth (in 2012-13, drawing 16.8 K in a 18 K venue), and SC Paderborn (currently [2014-15] drawing 13.8 K in a 15.3 K venue). And quasi-minnows such as SC Freiburg (drawing 23.8 K currently in a 24 K-capacity venue), can and do find a place in the Bundesliga (this is Freiburg’s 6th-straight season in the Bundesliga), while much bigger clubs, +30-K-drawing-clubs like Kaiserslautern, Nürnberg and Düsseldorf, stay stuck in the second division. The Bundesliga draws well because of several reasons…Bundesliga tickets are very affordable (like often costing less than $20 USD), the stadiums are all full of modern amenities and quite simply fantastic, the atmosphere is absolutely electric, and no fans get hurt. Oh, and last but not least, Bundesliga teams invariably play high-energy, ball-on-the-floor, passing-and-attacking-football. Bundesliga is by far the best attended football league in the world, but it goes deeper than that…Bundesliga is the best football league in the world no matter how you look at it.

Out of nowhere, India now has the fourth-highest-drawing football league in the world – the ISL…
(Indian Super League.)
I am sure many will be as shocked as I was, when I first perused the list, to see that the Indian Super League (aka the ISL), has become the fourth-highest drawing football league on the planet. The Kolkata Derby (Mohan Bagan v East Bengal) has always drawn huge (like ~80 K to ~137 K [seriously; see previous link: it happened in 1997]). But those two clubs are not even in the brand-new ISL – they are in the I-League (the I-League was re-established in 2007-08). Hopes are that the two leagues will find ways to acommodate each other, and maybe even merge, at some future date.

Anyway, there are just 8 brand-new teams in the ISL (there is no promotion/relegation, as in USA/Canda, and as in Australia). Those 8 teams are spread out rather evenly across the Indian subcontinent {see map of 2015 ISL, here}. Now one point needs to be made, and this will put that massive league-average-attendance figure the ISL drew in 2014 into a more fair perspective…these ISL teams are playing way less home matches than most, if not all, other pro football leagues across the planet. The ISL season only runs from October to December, and the regular season has just 14 games…so with just 7 home matches, amassing a higher average attendance is much easier.

This link shows you the 8 teams’ attendance figures in 2014 {here}.

I know the following might be a little dated by now, but this next link is an informative article from Oct. 2014, by Sam Crocker, which gives brief profiles of the 8 teams in the [2014] Indian Super League, Indian Super League: club-by-club guide to the inaugural season (theguardian.com/football).

In the inaugural season, in the Final, the ISL’s top-drawing team, the Kerala Blasters (who drew 49.1 K), and who are co-owned by retired Indian cricket star Sachin Tendulkar, lost 1-0 to the ISL’s second-best-drawing team (at 43.7 K), Atlético de Kolkata. Atlético de Kolkata, located in Kolkata (aka Calcutta), on the northeastern coast of India, are owned by a small consortium which includes retired Indian cricket star Sourav Ganguly and the Spanish club CA Atlético Madrid – and Atlético Kolkata wear the same kit as the 2013-14 La Liga champions (red-and-white-vertical-stripes-with-blue-pants). Here is an article on the ISL, which was posted in late December 2014 following the first ISL Final… from Guardian.com, by Saptarshi Ray from 23 Dec. 2014,
How India’s ISL became world football’s fourth biggest league (theguardian.com/football/blog).

The ISL might not be able to maintain the 24-K-per-game crowds that they drew in their first season in 2014, but, who knows? Maybe they will. I will leave the last word to one of the commenters on the article linked to above…
…(from commenter Indianguardian)…”It was an amazing tournament. I-League will never reach the heights of this tournament. For me I-League has to be scrapped and the ISL should be the only official football league of India.The reason is that the I-League is filled with teams like Dempo, Salgaocar, Mohun Bagan(founded in 1889) etc. These are historic teams with good local support but these team fail to gain national support. To support a team, one must identify oneself with the club. Most European clubs represent a city or a county or a region. People born in that city or in that region have an emotional attachment with that city and anything related with it. The historic I-League clubs don’t have this effect. They are named after their founders, chairmen etc. Imagine if Newcastle United is changed to Sports Direct United, Manchester City/United is changed to Etihad Inc./Glazer United. Will these clubs gain new fans?
¶Chennai is the capital of Tamil Nadu which is quite a big state in India. There are some hardcore football fans in Chennai and it has a population of 4.3 million and ever increasing and there is NO football club based in Chennai. This is what the new ISL corrected. They created teams based on Metropolitan cities and regions where football is extremely popular. People who followed football occasionally suddenly got interested and they wanted to support their city.
¶Another factor in ISL’s success is the ticket price like the author mentions. Everyone were able to afford the ticket.
¶With support for cricket declining in India (test match crowds are already dying out, only a short while ODI crowd diminishes also), ISL organisers must take this to the next stage. The huge cultural differences between the many states in India will lead to exciting rivalries and clashes. Here is hoping that this is the birth of football in India.”…(from commenter Indianguardian at theguardian.com/football/blog/2014/dec/23/india-super-league-fourth-biggest-league)
___
Thanks to the contributors at en.wikipedia.org, {Source of data, List of attendance figures at domestic professional sports leagues/Complete_table [with 2013-14 figures] (en.wikipedia.org).

April 23, 2015

Baseball in South Korea: KBO League, 2015 location-map with 2014 attendances, and an analysis of KBO crowd sizes./ Plus an illustration for the reigning (4-straight) champions the Samsung Lions.

Filed under: Baseball,Korea: baseball — admin @ 9:42 pm

korea_baseball_kbo-league2015_attendance-map-2014_post_b_v_.gif
Baseball in South Korea: KBO League, 2015 location-map with 2014 attendances



Links…
Korea Baseball Organization (KBO) (en.wikipedia.org).
-KBO teams…KBO League/ Teams (en.wikipedia.org).
-KBO official site/schedule, scores, standings; About KBO, etc. (in English, with Korean option)…http://eng.koreabaseball.com/.
-KBO 2015 season: standings, stats…2015 Korean Baseball Organization [sic] (baseball-reference.com/).
-KBO 리그의 공식 사이트http://www.koreabaseball.com/Default.aspx.
-My first post on KBO League (from Feb. 2010) has lots of info on the culture of Korean baseball,
Korea Baseball Organization: the 8 teams, with teams’ parent corporations listed, and baseball stadium photos (billsportsmaps.com/February 2010).

    Baseball in South Korea: KBO League, 2015 location-map with 2014 attendances

By Bill Turianski on 23 April 2015; twitter.com/billsportsmaps.com.
Demographics of South Korea
The population of South Korea is around 51.3 million {2014 estimate}. This puts South Korea as the 26th-most-populous nation on Earth. South Korea is very small, though: it is the 109th-largest country (at 100,210 km-sq or 66,690 mi-sq). That makes South Korea slightly smaller than Iceland, and slightly larger than Hungary. Largest city (by far) is, of course, Seoul…which is absolutely gigantic, and has a metro-area population that is second-largest on the planet. Seoul has a special-city population of around 10.1 million, and metro-area population of around 25.6 million ! {2014 figures). Only Tokyo, Japan (at ~36.9 million) has a larger metro-area. (I guess you learn something new everyday.) Basically, half of the population of South Korea resides in Seoul’s metropolitan area. South Korea has about the 30th-highest adjusted-GDP in the world {see this, List of countries by GDP (PPP) per capita).

KBO League established 1982; title is called Korean Series championship; there are 10 teams in the KBO League/ season is 126 g/Apr-Oct
(KBO, or Korea Baseball Organization, is the governing body of the sport in the country).

Pro major-league baseball in South Korea began in 1982, with the institution of the KBO League as a 6-team league; a minor league was established eight years later in 1990 – the KBO Futures League. In 1986, the KBO League expanded to include a seventh team. In the first decade of its existence, the KBO League as a whole was only drawing in the 5 to 7 K range. By 1991, the KBO League had 8 teams. In 1995, cumulative attendance for the season finally topped 10 K per game, boosted by the exciting 1995 KBO season which saw three teams, the OB Bears, the LG Twins, and the Lotte Giants, go neck-to-neck for the pennant (the title in ’95 was won by the OB, now Doosan, Bears). However, this league attendance figure wasn’t surpassed for 14 years. After 1995, the KBO began to see dwindling fan interest that lasted for a decade. What first helped reverse the gradual slide in attendances from 1996 to 2004 was the good showing that the South Korean national baseball team had in the first World Baseball Classic, in 2005, when they finished in third. Another boost to the game there came three years later, when South Korea narrowly lost to Japan in extra innings in the second World Baseball Classic, and then six months later, the South Korean baseball team won the gold medal in the 2008 Summer Olympics in Beijing. These results convinced many South Korean sports fans that KBO baseball was a product worth supporting. In 2008, league-wide attendance shot up 2.3 K per game to 10.4 K; the next year [2009] it was 11.1 K, and the KBO League has drawn above 11 K ever since.

And there is no doubt that the caliber of Korean baseball players has improved in the last 25 years. There is a large number of South Koreans playing in Japan, in the Nippon Professional Baseball League. In the United States, in Major League Baseball, there are currently 5 Korean players, including LA Dodgers starting LHP pitcher Hyun-jin Ryu, and Cincinnati Reds slugger and OF Shin-Soo Choo {see this, List of Major League Baseball players from South Korea}.

KBO League in the last two-and-a-half decades (1990s through 2010s)/ including present-day make-up of the KBO League [2015]
There were a few franchise shifts in the ensuing two decades (1990s to 2010). It wasn’t until 2013 that the KBO League finally got a ninth team (the NC Dinos). Now, for 2015, the KBO League continues to exhibit robust signs of health by finally getting to the nice round figure of 10 teams, with the addition of the KT Wiz. The KT Wiz look to have a serious uphill climb though, seeing as how they started their KBO existence going 3-and-17 (!) and sit last (as of 24 April 2015/ 2015 table here).

The KBO League is, in 2015, comprised of the following…
5 teams from Greater Seoul/Incheon/Suwon (metropolitan-area Greater Seoul)
3 teams from Seoul’s core-city-region: (Doosan Bears, LG Twins, Nexen Heroes); and
2 teams from Greater Seoul, with one team in South Korea’s third-largest city of Incheon (SK Wyverns), and
one team about 19 miles south of Seoul-city-center in Suwon (the brand-new KBO team the KT Wiz; KT Wiz).
5 KBO teams from the rest of South Korea
The other 5 teams in the KBO League are comprised as follows [clockwise on the map]…
one team from the fifth-largest city, Daejon (Hanwah Eagles);
one team from the the fourth-largest city, Daegu (Samsung Lions);
one team from the second-largest city Busan, (Lotte Giants);
one team from the 8th-largest city, Changwon (recent-expansion-team NC Dinos; NC Dinos); and
one team from the sixth-largest city, Gwanju (KIA Tigers, who are the most successful team in KBO, with 10 titles, last in 2009).

    Attendances of KBO clubs in general

KBO League attendance in 2014 was 11,302 per game.

(Note: if you want to see year-by-year/team-by-team KBO League attendance figures, the link to the KBO site’s page on attendance can be found if you scroll down to the foot of this post, where you will see an instruction guide to translate the headers to English).

League-wide cumulative attendance in the KBO’s first division these days varies from around 11 K to 13 K per game, depending on how certain teams fare in any given season. With only 9 [now 10] teams in the KBO League, a few teams’ crowd-size variations can really skew the league numbers.

Lotte Giants weird crowd-size fluctuations and the possible harm of expansion in the KBO
The club with the biggest crowd variation from year-to-year is Lotte Giants of second-city Busan (which is on the south coast of the country). Generally speaking, Lotte can draw 20 K if the team is doing well (as in 2012), but they usually only draw about 12 K if the team is doing poorly (like in 2007 and 2014). But it is starting to appear that recent (2013) expansion in the KBO will end up hurting Lotte Giants’ ability to draw large crowds. It looks like nearby new team the NC Dinos (who are from Changwon, which is located about 25 miles west of Lotte Giants) might be starting to erode Lotte Giants’ crowd sizes. I say this because we have seen it happen elsewhere in top-division baseball in the recent past – namely, in the 2005 to 2011 time period, when the MLB’s Montreal franchise moved to Washington, DC and started to erode the nearby (~35 miles up the road) MLB team the Baltimore Orioles’ crowd sizes. The Orioles drew 34 K in 2004, but once Washington got an MLB team again, 6 years later the Orioles were only drawing in the mid-to-low-20s K (like drawing only 23.5 K in 2009, then only drawing an alarming 21 K in 2010). So the Nats were knocking off at least 5-to-7 K worth of attendance from the O’s circa the 2006-11 time frame, and it looked to be a problem until both those teams got competitive [circa 2013-on], and crowds for both the Nats and the O’s began to be in the healthy low-30-K range [circa 2014-and-on]). And the same could happen in the south-east coast of South Korea, because Lotte only drew 12.0 K in 2013, when they had a decent .532 winning percentage. Lotte were playing well in 2013, and going by the Lotte’s fanbases’ past behavior (ie, not going to the ballpark when Lotte were having a losing season), the ball club definitely should have been drawing at least in the 17-K-range, if not higher (for example, in 2010, Lotte had a .531 winning pct., and drew 17.8 K). The new factor of nearby fan-dollar competition has now emerged (2013 was NC Dinos’ debut season). NC Dinos, who draw 7-to-8 K, got competitive fast (with a .551 winning pct in their 2nd year in 2014). So it will be interesting to see how this new dynamic in the KBO plays out, and if the Lotte Giants will be able to overcome this imposition on their catchment area.

Other teams such as SK Wyverns of Incheon (crowd-size-variation from 12 K to 16 K), and Nexen Heroes of Seoul (crowd-size-variation from 6 K to 9 K) also have significantly variable crowd sizes in any given year.

The perennial highest drawing clubs in the KBO League are Seoul’s big two: the LG Twins and the Doosan Bears
The highest draws in KBO League are Seoul’s LG Twins and Doosan Bears. LG and Doosan share the second-largest ball park in the country, Jamsil Baseball Stadium (capacity 30,200) (Lotte Giants’ Busan Sajik Baseball Stadium is slightly larger at 30,500-capacity). Both LG Twins and OB Bears were charter members of KBO in 1982 (OB Bears were founded in Daejeon in 1982; the franchise moved to Seoul in 1985 [with same name kept], before being officially renamed the Doosan Bears in 1999). The OB Bears played their first season in Seoul in 1985 at a since-demolished stadium, then in 1986 moved over to the Jamsil stadium and have shared the venue with the Twins ever since [the Nexen Heroes also use the Jamsil stadium for big games/ see Nexen section a few lines below]. Both LG Twins and Doosan Bears’ attendance has improved considerably in the last decade, and both have drawn between 15 and 20 K in the last five seasons (2010-14). However, neither ball club is particularly successful, though, because the last of the LG Twins’ 2 titles was won in 1994, while the last of the OB/Doosan Bears’ 3 titles was won in 2001. So the big 2 of Seoul have become complacent.
3rd-best draw in KBO are SK Wyverns
Besides the aforementioned take-em-or-leave-em nature of Lotte’s fickle fanbase, the only other team in South Korea that can draw in the thirteen-to-fifteen-K-range is the SK Wyverns, a relatively new club (est. 2000), from the far-western-part of Greater Seoul in the city of Incheon. SK, whose nickname of ‘wyvern’ refers to a type of dragon, basically drew terrible in their early days (ie, 2.6 K in their second season in 2001), but once they started racking up the first of their 3 titles (2007, 2008, 2010), the ball club stated drawing better, and now can easily draw in the 12 to 15 K range, and SK Wyverns drew 12.9 K last year [2014].
Worst-drawing KBO club is Nexen Heroes (from the western-side of Seoul)
The lowest-drawing club in the KBO League is Seoul’s ugly-stepchild-club, the title-less Nexen Heroes (est. 2008), who draw between 5 and 8 K. The Nexen Heroes did come close to glory last season, though, when they drew 6.9 K and made it to their first Korean Series, but fell to the Samsung Lions in 6 games {see this, 2014 Korean Series}.

    Hats off to reigning KBO camps the Samsung Lions

Samsung Lions are the second-most successful baseball club in South Korea, with 8 titles – four of which they have won consecutively (2011, 2012, 2013, 2014). The dark-sky-blue-and-silver Samsung Lions draw between 6 and 9 K at their snug, 10 K-capacity Daegu Baseball Stadium, in Daegu. Daegu, which is located inland in the south-east of the Korean peninsula, is the fourth-largest city in South Korea, and has a metro-area population of around 2.4 million.

Samsung Lions drew 7.8 K last year, which made them the team that filled their ballpark the best in the KBO in 2014 (ie, the highest percent-capacity, at 78.9). The Samsung Lions have won all their four straight Korean Series championships under manager Ryu Joong-il. In 2014, the Lions boasted three sluggers who hit 30 HR or more (Hyoung-woo Choi, Yamaico Navarro, and Lee Seung-yeop); those 3 players are featured below…
samsung-lions_kbo_daegu-stadium_2014-champs_ryu-joong-il_hyoung-woo-choi_yamaico-navarro_lee-seung-yeop_i_.gif
Photo and Image credits above –
Logo/cap/batting helmet, illustration by 삼성 라이온즈 samsunglions.com/en/intro/intro_2_2.asp.
Ryu Joong-il, photo by Yonhop at english.yonhapnews.co.kr/culturesports.
Hyoung-woo Choi, photo by Yonhop via koreatimes.co.kr/news/sports.
Yamaico Navarro, photo unattributed at licey.com.
Lee Seung-yeop, photo unattributed at koreajoongangdaily.joins.com/news/article.
Action photo from April 2015 at Daegu Baseball Stadium with crowd behind home plate, photo by Solmin at idaegu.com/?c=6&uid=313363.
Samsung Lions cheerleaders and crowd at Daegu Baseball Stadium, photo by LHD at yeongnam.com/news.
Mascot-logo illustration by samsunglions.com.
___
Thanks to all at the following links…
-Globe-map of South Korea, by Ksiom at File:South Korea (orthographic projection).svg (commons.wikimedia.org).
-Blank map of South Korea, by NordNordWest at :FileSouth Korea location map.svg (commons.wikimedia.org).
-Attendance…koreabaseball.com/Record/Crowd/History (koreabaseball.com).
and…
-A very Big Thanks to Dan at MyKBO.net, for tweeting me the 2015 KBO League attendances AND translating the headers there :) Mykbo.net ; @Mykbo.net

How to read KBO League attendance figures (at the official KBO site) if you can’t read Korean…
1.) go here.
2). use the following list to translate the [non-acronym] headers…”From left – right: Samsung, KIA, Lotte, LG, Doosan, Hanhwa, SK, Nexen, NC, KT, Hyundai, Ssangbangwool’.
3). PS, Hyundai and Ssangbangwool are defunct KBO teams.

April 11, 2015

Australian rules football – the Australian Football League (AFL), 2015 location-map with: rules (in general), clubs-history-chart, and chart of 2014 attendances with titles listed./ Plus: 2014 champions the Hawthorn Hawks.

Filed under: Australia,Australian Rules Football — admin @ 3:14 pm

australian-rules-football_2015-afl_location-map_w-2014-attendances_titles-list_post_e_.gif
AFL (Australia): Australian Rules Football’s 1st division – map, with brief league history, 2014 attendances, and club titles listed



Links…
-Teams…Australian Football League/Current clubs (en.wikipedia.org).
-Live scores…scoreboard.com/aussie-rules.
-Fixtures & Results (official site)…afl.com.au/fixture.
-Official website…afl.com.au.

    Australian Football League: 2015 location-map with: Rules (in general), Clubs-history-chart; Attendances, Club colours, and Titles listed

By Bill Turianski on 11 April 2015; twitter.com/billsportsmaps.com.

Update -
Please note: here is an “update” I posted in 2016 (on the 2015 season of the AFL),
AFL attendance chart for 2015 regular season (with 2015 finishes listed)/+ the Hawthorn Hawks – 2015 AFL Premiers [champions] (their 3rd-straight title, and 13th overall) (billsportsmaps.com, posted on 21 March 2016).

First off, apologies to all the regulars from Down Under who have waited patiently (over 7 years) for me to finally make a map and a post of an Australian pro league. I will also soon have a post, in the near future (around mid-May 2015), for Australian rugby league football (the NRL).

On the map page…
At the top left-hand side of the map page is a Clubs-formation chart which shows a brief history of the VFL/AFL, with each current clubs’ date of inclusion into the league noted. At the lower left is a globe-map of Australia, with the 5 largest cities noted. At the center of the map page is a location-map of the 18 AFL teams. At the upper right-hand side of the map page are two illustrations of the typical Australian rules field, with a brief rules description and a brief word on typical-playing-field-dimensions (there also is a section below, on rules/playing-field/traditional-positions). Below that is a chart which shows 2014 home regular season attendance for the 18 AFL clubs, with three other things listed…1). club’s dates of formation and of inclusion into VFL/AFL; 2). club colours, crest, and jersey-pattern; 3). Premiers (titles) won by each club (with date of last title noted).

Size and population of Australia…
I will start of with a brief description of the size, relative size, and population of Australia. If you click on the following link you can see, at a glance, how large the island/Continent of Australia is when it is compared to the Continental USA, {here (aboutaustralia.com)}. As you can see in that graphic, Australia is about the same size as the Continental USA, but when you factor in Alaska (and Hawaii), Australia ends up being about 23% “smaller” than the 50 United States. Australia is the 6th-largest country on Earth, at around 7.6 million km-squared (or around 2.9 million miles-squared), which makes it about 10% “smaller” than the 5th-largest country – Brazil, and more than twice the size of the 7th-largest country – India. To put it another way, Australia is massive. It is also not very populous for its size, because Australia is only the 52nd-most-populous nation, with a population of around 23.7 million {2015 figure}. To give you an idea of how sparsely populated Australia is, it has slightly less inhabitants than the pretty-small-sized nations of Nepal, Ghana, or North Korea. {Sources of data: sizes: List of countries and dependencies by area; populations: List of countries and dependencies by population (both from en.wikipedia.org).}

The Big 5 Cities in Australia…
There are 5 major cities in Australia, all of which have AFL teams. On the map page, in the globe-map on the lower left there, I have placed those 5 cities along with their populations. Sydney is the largest city in the country, with around 4.7 million inhabitants (in the metro area/urban population/all listed here are 2013 or 2014 estimates). Melbourne is the second-city of Australia – but only just…it has a population of only about 300 K less than Sydney, at around 4.4 million. Brisbane is third-largest, at about 2.3 million; Perth is fourth at around 2.0 million; and Adelaide is fifth at around 1.2 million. The capital of Australia, Canberra (which is situated in the small Australian Capital Territory, located midway between Sydney and Melbourne) is a rather small city, and is the eighth-largest, with about 411,000 inhabitants. {Sources, each city’s Wikipedia page for the most-recent population estimates, however the following link is relatively recently updated (2012 figures), List of cities in Australia by population (en.wikipedia.org).}

There are 4 football codes in Australia which have professional major leagues (the most of any country)…
There are 4 football codes in Australia (listed below with first-division 2014 league-average-attendances):
Australian rules football (1st division: AFL, which averaged 32,327 per game in 2014).
Rugby union football (1st division: Super Rugby, which averaged 16,913 per game in 2014).
Rugby league football (1st division: NRL, which averaged 15,787 per game in 2014).
Association football [aka soccer]: only pro division: A-League, which averaged 14,759 per game in 2014).
[source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/2014_Australian_football_code_crowds#Attendances_by_league.]

An extremely simplified guide to the 4 football codes’ popularity in Australia…
Aussie rules football…
[please note: a very basic VFL/AFL history is shown at the top left-hand-side of the map page.]
To simplify it in the extreme, Australian Rules Football, which originated in the 1860s in and around Melbourne in the state of Victoria, turned semi-pro when the AFL was formed in 1897. Although first division teams were not based in any of the other states and territories of the country for almost 90 years (until the 1980s and 1990s), Aussie rules football has always been hugely popular throughout all the 8 states and the 2 territories of Australia, with the exception of New South Wales (NSW) and Queensland. In and around Sydney (which is the capital of New South Wales) and in all of Queensland (including Brisbane), Australian rules football has been historically overshadowed by rugby league football. The split described in the last two sentences can be see in the map at Barassi Line (en.wikipedia.org) {that map is also at the top-left-hand-side of the map page}.

The 2 Rugby codes in Australia…
Rugby Union, a little over a century ago, became the major sport of the city of Melbourne and of the state of Victoria. The highest level of competition in Australia is the National Rugby Championship, although there is a higher tier that involves teams from South Africa, New Zealand, and Australia, Super Rugby.

Rugby League, a little over a century ago, became the major sport of the city of Sydney and of the state of New South Wales (as well as the major sport of Brisbane in Queensland). The highest level of competition in Australia is the National Rugby League (NRL), which has 16 teams (9 teams from New South Wales).

Soccer (aka association football), in Australia…
Soccer was widely shunned by many if not most Australian fans and players for decades (ie, only “Sheilas, Wogs & Poofters” played soccer, as the bigotry of the day held [circa 1950s through '80s]). Only in the last decade-and-a-half or so has soccer become a viable pro sport in Australia. And now, going into the 2010s, soccer has made significant gains in popularity, to the point that the Australian first division in soccer (the A-League) is currently drawing only marginally less than both rugby codes in the country (see list with league-attendance 4 paragraphs above).

Australian Rules Football: Rules (in general), Field Size, and Traditional Positions…
australian-rules-football_rules_typical-oval_field-size_traditional-positions_b_.gif
Image credits above – Field markings on the oval, illustration by Schultz at File:Footygroundfix.svg (en.wikipedia.org). Traditional positions in Aussie rules, illustration by Robert Merkel at File:Aussie rules ground positions.svg. Typical oval, illustration by clfm at File:AFL stadium.svg (commons.wikimedia.org).

Australian Rules Football: Rules (in general)…
[Note: the text below is the same as the text in the upper-right-hand-part of the illustration above.]
Each team has 18 players. The playing field is very large (~135 to 185 meters), and is usually oval in shape. The ball is oval, and has much more bounce to it than an American gridiron football. 4 quarters of 20 minutes each are played (80:00). Each quarter starts with a ball-up, which is similar to a tip-off, but with the umpire bouncing the ball down hard onto the ground, and thus high into the air, to be contested on the way down by each team’s ruckman (usually the tallest man on the team). Aussie rules is a contact sport and opposing players can stop the ball carrier by tackling, but dangerous play will result in distance penalties or suspension.

Out of bounds balls are put back in play by umpire, who, with his back turned, tosses ball overhead back into play.

There are four goalposts, and kicking the ball through the two center-posts is the object of the game. Goals are scored by kicking the ball, untouched by anyone else, through the center-uprights (6 points). If ball goes through the flanking uprights instead, it is called a behind (1 point).
-Players can advance the ball (in any direction) by running with the ball, but must bounce the ball (or touch ball to ground) every 15 meters (~16 yards).
-Players can also advance the ball by kicking the ball to teammates.
-Players can also advance the ball via a clenched-fist hand-pass (called a handball), or by an open-hand-tap.
-No throwing of the ball is allowed.
A mark is made when a player catches a kick of more than 15 meters. Play stops, and then that player kicks the ball from the mark.
{For further details, see this, Australian rules football/Laws of the game;
and see this, Australian rules football playing field.}

AFL season:
The AFL (regular) season spans from late-March to early-September, and has 22 matches per team (11 home games for each team, played in a 23-weeks-span, with one bye week per team per season). Four points are awarded for each win and two points are awarded for a draw. That is illogical mathematics. Because what would be the difference if it was 2 points for a win, and 1 for a draw? There would be no difference. Hey Melbourne, why don’t you just give 2 million points for a win and 1 million points for a draw? Because the standings would still end up the same. Sheesh. {See this, Why does the AFL use 4 points for a win and 2 points for a draw? (answers.yahoo.com/question), which features some bloke positing the following theory…”Mate, I have no idea why they award 4 points for a win in the AFL. Almost every other Aussie Rules Football competition, outside of Victoria uses the 2-1-0 system. My hunch: 4 points looks bigger and better, exactly the way Victorians see themselves! (comment by Graham).}

The top 8 [of the 18] teams qualify for a post-season playoffs, which is a bit complicated {see this, AFL finals system}. Basically, of the 8 that make it to the post-season, the top 4 only have to win 2 more matches to advance to the Grand Final, while the lower 4 [of the 8 who qualify for the post-season] have to win 3 more matches to advance to the Grand Final. Excerpt from Australian Football League/Finals series (en.wikipedia.org)…”The grand final is traditionally played at the Melbourne Cricket Ground on the afternoon of the last Saturday in September. The winning team receives a silver premiership cup and a navy blue premiership flag – a new one of each is manufactured each year. The flag has been presented since the league began and is traditionally unfurled at the team’s first home game of the following season.”

    Australian Football League (AFL): est. 1897 as the VFL…

(Note: The VFL changed its name to the AFL in 1990.)

1896: the Australian Football League (AFL), was formed in 1896 as the Victorian Football League (VFL), when 6 Melbourne-based clubs broke away from the the Victorian Football Association (Collingwood, Essendon, Fitzroy [now Brisbane Lions], Geelong, Melbourne, South Melbourne [now Sydney Swans]).

1897: a few months later, in early 1897, those 6 clubs invited two other Melbourne-based clubs to join the competition for its first season of 1897 (Carlton, and St Kilda).

In 1908, two more teams joined (Richmond, and the Melbourne University team), making the VFL, temporarily, a 10-team league for a 7-year-spell (1908-14).

(By around 1911 or so, player payments were becoming common in the VFL.)

1914: but one of those 2 new teams dropped out 6 years later – that was the Melbourne University VFL team. They were constrained by only being able to field players who were students there, and so never fielded professional players [just as the league was being filled more and more with semi-pro and pro players]. Melbourne University finished last 3 straight seasons, lost their last 51 games in the league, and left the competition for good in 1914. (Melbourne University team was re-started 5 years later in 1919 as 2 teams – the University Blues and the University Blacks – both of whom are currently in the top division of the seven-tier Victorian Amateur Football Association.)

1913: the VFL existed as a 9-team league from 1913 to 1925.

In 1925, 3 more Melbourne-based clubs joined, to make it a 12-team league (Footscray [now Western Bulldogs], Hawthorn, North Melbourne).

For over 5 decades (57 years/1925 to 1982), the VFL continued to exist in the 12-teams/all-Greater-Melbourne-based-clubs form.

1982: then one club moved up north to New South Wales – that was the South Melbourne Swans. The club’s Victoria-based supporters tried to stop it, but in fact the players wanted to move to Sydney, and so the move stood. Thus, in 1982, the first Interstate team (ie, a club outside of Victoria state) was established, when the South Melbourne Swans moved to the-land-of-rugby-league (NSW), and became the Sydney Swans. And several others clubs from outside of Victoria state soon followed…

1987: the first of two AFL clubs from the far western state of Western Australia, in Perth, joined the AFL in 1987 (West Coast Eagles/ 8 years later, in 1995, Fremantle, of Greater Perth, joined the league).

Also in 1987, the first of two AFL clubs from Queensland joined the league (the Brisbane Bears, who later became the Brisbane Lions in 1997, via a merger with Fitzroy [of Melbourne]/ 14 years later, the Gold Coast Suns, of far-southern Queensland, joined in 2011).

In 1991, the first of two AFL clubs from Victoria state’s neighboring state of South Australia joined the league (Adelaide Crows, who are currently the highest-drawing AFL club at ~48 K per game/ 6 years later, in 1997, the Adelaide Power joined the league).

2012: to round out the league, in 2012, another club from Sydney joined, and that was the Greater Western Sydney Giants.

So, at present [2015], there are 18 AFL teams, 10 of which are from Greater Melbourne/Victoria state; 2 from New South Wales state (in Greater Sydney); 2 from Western Australia state (in Greater Perth); 2 from South Australia state (in Adelaide); and 2 from Queensland state (1 in Brisbane, and 1 just south of there in the Gold Coast region).

To this day, first-division Aussie rules football draws best by far of any sport in Australia…in 2014, the AFL drew 32.3 K per game, which was almost double what its closest competitor for the fan-dollar (rugby union) drew. And for good reason, because Australian rules football is an awesome thing to behold. The AFL’s title-game, the Grand Final, which is held at the 95,000-capacity Melbourne Cricket Ground, draws the highest crowd of any national championship game in the world. The AFL’s 118th Grand Final drew over 99,000 last October (see illustration below).

Hawthorn Hawks have won the last two Premiers…
Hawthorn Hawks are of course Melbourne-based, and play most of their home matches at Melbourne Cricket Ground, but, since 2007, they have been playing 4 of their 11 home games per year at the 21,000-capacity York Park in Launceston, Tasmania, which is the second-largest city in Tasmania and is located on the north part of the island of Tasmania, 202 km or 126 miles north of the state capital of Hobart, by road. Distance by air from Melbourne, Victoria, Australia to Launceston, Tasmania, Australia is 442 km (or 275 mi). (Tasmania is the only Australian state located outside of the island/continent of Australia; Launceston is the only non-coastal city in Tasmania, with a population of around 103,000.)

Hawthorn Hawks – back-to-back champions of the Australian Football League (2013 & 2014 Premiers)…
-From Dailymail.co.uk, from 27 Sept. 2014, by Louise Cheer, Daniel Mills, and Sally Lee, Hawks soar to victory as Swans sink without trace: Hawthorn smash Sydney 137-74 as [more than 99,000] fans watch AFL grand final in Melbourne (dailymail.co.uk/news/article [w/ dozens of photos]).
-From Guardian/sports, from 27 Sept.2014, by Scott Heinrich, AFL grand final: Hawthorn win 12th flag with demolition of Sydney Swans (guardian.com/sport).

    Below: the reigning AFL champions, the 12-time Premiership-winning Hawthorn Hawks, of Melbourne (and of Tasmania)…

hawthorn-hawks_2014-afl-champions_2014-grand-final_photos_k_.gif
Photos and Images above -
Hawthorn FC colours, in swatch form, from File:AFL Hawthorn Icon.jpg (by the realjoebloggsblog at en.wikipedia.org).
Photo of Jared Lewis, from heraldsun.au. Photo-illustration of Peter Crimmins Medal from hawthornfc.com.au. Quote from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Peter_Crimmins_Medal. Photo of Jarryd Roughead, by Michael Dodge/Getty Images AsiaPac via zimbio.com.

Photos from 2014 Grand Final…Hawks fans at the G with flags and banners, photo by Getty Images via dailymail.co.uk. Luke Breust stooping to win possession, photo by Quinn Rooney/Getty Images AsiaPac via zimbio.com. Cyril Rioli scoring a goal from a tight angle, photo by Quinn Rooney/Getty Images AsiaPac via zimbio.com. Luke Hodge claimed his second Norm Smith Medal [best player in Grand Final] and helped the Hawks to another Grand Final, photo by Michael Willson/AFL Media via theroar.com.au. Hawks players celebrate at the final siren, photo by Quinn Rooney/Getty Images via gettyimages.com. Will Langford after leaping into stands to celebrate with Hawks fans, photo by Quinn Rooney/Getty Images AsiaPac via zimbio.com. Hawks’ Trophy celebration, photo by Joe Castro/AAP Images via guardian.com/sport.

Here is a very recent article about AFL’s efforts to lure American college basketball players into converting into pro Aussie rules football players, from the New York Times, by Scott Cacciola from 8 May 2015,
Australian Football Visits U.S. in Search of Basketball Big Men (nytimes.com/sports/ncaabasketball).
___
Sources for map page:
Thanks to all at these links…
-Attendances (2014 season): 2014 Australian football code crowds/Attendances by team.

-Dates of establishment: Australian Football League/Current clubs.

-Titles: List of Australian Football League premiers. (en.wikipedia.org).

-Rules: Australian rules football; Australian rules football playing field (en.wikipedia.org).

-Australian rules football ovals (3 illustrations)…
Thanks to Schultz at File:Footygroundfix.svg (en.wikipedia.org).
Thanks to clfm at File:AFL stadium.svg (commons.wikimedia.org).
Thanks to Robert Merkel at File:Aussie rules ground positions.svg.
-Blank maps on map page…
Thanks to Ssolbergj for globe-map of Australia, File:Australia (orthographic projection).svg (commons.wikimedia.org).
Thanks to NordNordWest for blank map of Australia, File:Australia location map.svg (en.wikipedia.org).
-Jersey Icons…
Thanks to thejoesbloggsblog for most of the jersey-pattern icons on the chart on the map page at Australian Football League/Current clubs (en.wikipedia.org).
Thanks to the AFLstore for Western Eagles’ jersey-icon, theaflstore.com.au/west-coast-eagles.

Thanks to the contributors at Australian Football League.
Thanks to the bloke in the Geelong Cats cap, in the stairwell at the Fairport, NY library last November, who told me that Aussie rules football is…”the best sport in the world, mate.”

Powered by WordPress