AFL

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AFL stands for Australian Football League, which refers to the major football league in Australia and also to the game itself, which was created in Australia and is only seriously played in Australia.

AFL began as a kind of offshoot of Rugby, which was changed, as legend would have it, so as to give cricket players something to do during the off season, so that they stayed in shape. It was created in 1896.

An alternative theory has been pushed, that it was in some way based on mar grook, a game played by traditional Australian Aborigines. Many aborigines insist that the game was based more on mar grook than on rugby.

AFL is the most popular of Australia's 4 football codes: soccer (known worldwide as "football"), rugby league, rugby union and AFL. As a whole, the 4 football codes are the most popular sport in Australia. Individually, however, cricket remains Australia's most popular sport, in terms of viewers. AFL is nonetheless in Australia's top 10 most watched sports, and is in the top 10 in all other statistical aspects as well.

AFL is most popular in Victoria, which until the 1990s hosted the premier league, which was then called the VFL or Victorian Football League. To date, 11 of the 16 clubs in the AFL are teams based in Victoria. Victorian players make up about 50% of the players in the AFL. Victoria is easily the most potent of the states, making state of origin matches meaningless. Recently these have been changed to be Victoria versus the "Dream Team", that being a combination of the other states.

Outside of Victoria, AFL is also played as the main form of football in South Australia and Tasmania, who are the 2nd and 3rd strongest AFL states respectively. South Australia currently has 2 teams in the AFL and are petitioning to have a 3rd, whilst Tasmania, primarily for financial reasons, still do not have any. Tasmania also has a much smaller population than South Australia and Victoria.

AFL is also played to some extent in Western Australia. Whilst it is not very popular in WA, their first team, the West Coast Eagles, have managed to win 4 premierships since 1987 and have been the most successful team in that 20 year period. Their other side, Fremantle, have not been successful at all.

In the Northern Territory, AFL competes with both rugby league and rugby union, as well as soccer, where all 4 forms of football are roughly equally as popular as each other. Whilst Northern Territory does occasionally host an AFL match, with Port Adelaide and Western Bulldogs recently playing there, they have no serious aim to have a side in the AFL.

New South Wales is home to rugby, not to AFL, and after the 2 rugby codes, they prefer soccer to AFL. Nonetheless, New South Wales has a side in the AFL, the Sydney Swans, which was a takeover of the South Melbourne Swans, and was the first non-Victorian side in the league. There are plans to have a 2nd New South Wales based side. The Sydney Swans have won just 1 premiership in their 25 years in the AFL and have generally not been successful at all. New South Wales nonetheless is the biggest state in Australia, and there is a feeling that they may like AFL more if they had a 2nd side. The aim to bring New South Wales into playing AFL more is similar to the aim by the rugby community to try to get Victoria more interested in rugby. It is a part of the rivalry that exists between New South Wales and Victoria.

Queensland, like New South Wales, is also home to rugby. If anything, Queensland is even more interested in rugby than New South Wales, which is evident by their competitiveness in the state of origin contests in rugby between the two states, which Queensland, in spite of having half the population, wins as often as New South Wales does. Nonetheless, Queensland does have a side in the AFL, currently called the Brisbane Lions (previously known as the Brisbane Bears), which was initially its own side, but eventually merged with the Fitzroy Lions, a Victorian side. After years of failure, the Brisbane Lions won 4 premierships in a row, although there were complaints from Collingwood that they were cheating because of having a larger salary cap than the other states (a similar complaint was lodged against West Coast Eagles, who got to pick from all of the Western Australian players). Since the salary cap rules were changed, Brisbane has done progressively worse, although they remain in contention for the finals. In spite of all of this, there are aims to have a 2nd Brisbane team in the near future, at the same time as there will be a 2nd Sydney team.

AFL maintains a web site, which has live scores, up to the minute news and also has links to team sites for all of the 16 teams.

AFL also runs a competition called Dream Team, which their official site maintains stats of. A 2nd competition, called Super Coach is run by the Herald Sun newspaper, but is also regarded highly. In spite of these being fantasy contests, they are discussed on radio and TV during commentary, and offer cash prizes.

AFL also has a special Telstra bigpond component to their web page, which is for Telstra bigpond subscribers only.