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The Real Battle of a Code War


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6 hours ago, Sports Prophet said:

A short but great opinion piece on the real defining battles of a sporting code war.

https://mobile.abc.net.au/news/2020-09-04/afl-nrl-should-focus-on-grassroots-not-fuelling-code-wars/12626892?section=sport

I approached the article with trepidation given Hinds history of being an afl apologist. Thought he was pretty even handed.

The article is certainly relevant given the raging debate on other threads over `top-down` versus `bottom-up` strategies for expansion.

 

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Good article. I've copied out these two lines.

"This is based on a rationale that has underpinned much of the AFL's growth across Australia — those who play the game are many times more likely to watch, attend, buy merchandise and otherwise support the game."

"In the COVID-19 era, the Code Wars winners will be those sports which hold their nerve when cutting budgets and continue to invest in development and growth."

These quotes seemed particularly poignant to me. (The bold, underlining emphasis, is my own).

For goodness sake, lets get our ars...s in gear and focus on increasing participation numbers year on year. 

It's particularly important that any work done is modelled on best practise (and not having to continually re-invent the wheel) which is why I'm urging ''the game'' to create a ''how-to'' guide based on what's happening in Newcastle and/or anywhere else where we can collate good practise and make it available to anyone with ambitions to grow the game in their area. 

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41 minutes ago, fighting irish said:

... I'm urging ''the game'' to create a ''how-to'' guide based on what's happening in Newcastle ... where we can collate good practise and make it available to anyone with ambitions to grow the game in their area. 

You'd think if rugby league can make decent inroads (which it has, of late) in the seriously soccer-centric North East - Teesside, County Durham and Tyneside - those responsible must have hit on a winning formula. Worth copying!

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45 minutes ago, fighting irish said:

"This is based on a rationale that has underpinned much of the AFL's growth across Australia — those who play the game are many times more likely to watch, attend, buy merchandise and otherwise support the game."

This is one of those things that I see repeated all the time but I’ve never seen any really hard evidence to suggest that it actually true.

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31 minutes ago, The Great Dane said:

This is one of those things that I see repeated all the time but I’ve never seen any really hard evidence to suggest that it actually true.

If it was true in Australia the huge numbers of junior soccer players over the last 3 or 4 decades would have thrust a professional soccer competition to the top of the mountain in Australia.. but that hasn’t happened.

Last week’s Raiders game out-rated the A-League grand final which was on at the same time.

So there’s more to it than just having lots of juniors..

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28 minutes ago, The Great Dane said:

This is one of those things that I see repeated all the time but I’ve never seen any really hard evidence to suggest that it actually true.

Are you referring to afl in particular or are you referring to people who play a particular sport in general. Soccer in NSW where I live is probably played by a lot of people who would rarely watch an A-League game yet would follow the NRL, mainly because of their age and the demands of league. 

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There is indeed "more to it than that". Allegiances to football codes were "baked in" to most cities as they grew rapidly in the late 19th century - Rugby League perhaps more than any other football code is indelibly linked to the social history of the communities that play it . You will find many examples of this history in the excellent Rugby Reloaded podcast from Professor Tony Collins. No myths, no William Webb Ellis, no "England took football to the world", no "build it and they will come".

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32 minutes ago, The Great Dane said:

This is one of those things that I see repeated all the time but I’ve never seen any really hard evidence to suggest that it actually true.

 

1 minute ago, Copa said:

If it was true in Australia the huge numbers of junior soccer players over the last 3 or 4 decades would have thrust a professional soccer competition to the top of the mountain in Australia.. but that hasn’t happened.

So there’s more to it than just having lots of juniors..

There's no doubt that there's more to it than that Copa but I wonder how soccer will look in Oz in 20 or 30 years time. Its happening in America. Let's wait and see.

You GD are writing off, the opinions of the author of the article, who may be much more informed and therefore better qualified to make that statement.

What I think, you two fella's are leaving out of your assessment, is the value of persisting over a long period of time and ensuring increasing numbers year on year (a la Newcastle).

I'm sorry but in my opinion, your view is just an excuse for not doing anything and salve's the conscience of the lazy.

Your attitude largely explains why we're in the mess we are in now, facing a very real existential crisis.

We are simply too thin, on the ground. 

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4 minutes ago, nkpom said:

There is indeed "more to it than that". Allegiances to football codes were "baked in" to most cities as they grew rapidly in the late 19th century - Rugby League perhaps more than any other football code is indelibly linked to the social history of the communities that play it . You will find many examples of this history in the excellent Rugby Reloaded podcast from Professor Tony Collins. No myths, no William Webb Ellis, no "England took football to the world", no "build it and they will come".

You are implying that if its ''baked in'' there's nothing that can be done to change it.

I oppose that view with every fibre of my being.

If that is true, how do you explain the growth in Newcastle? Or London's production of Super League quality players.

Are you suggesting that they might as well abandon their development efforts?

What I'm suggesting is that if these efforts had been made over a longer period and over a greater geographical area and as efficiently as possible(with expertise) we would have seen much bigger results.

As our adherents age and die we need to have a system for replacing them with the young.

If we ensure, that the numbers coming in at the bottom are greater than the numbers dieing off, we'll get growth if not, we get decline.

Ultimately, we'll get what we deserve.

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1 hour ago, fighting irish said:

There's no doubt that there's more to it than that Copa but I wonder how soccer will look in Oz in 20 or 30 years time. Its happening in America. Let's wait and see.

Professional soccer in Australia is going backwards at quite a rate. Some regular season games were pulling ratings of 12,000 and they are looking at a worse TV deal next time around if they can find one at all.

Culturally in Australia it’s mostly viewed as a children’s game.

None of the teens in my son’s team follow a soccer team in Australia. They support an afl or nrl team plus maybe a European soccer team. This is a common occurrence all throughout Australia and the huge playing numbers soccer has had for decades hasn’t helped anything, it’s going backwards at soccer’s top end.

It shows how hard it is to break through hard wired cultural habits. It’s really hard.

When I went to high school in the US in the 90s soccer in my region was mostly a girl only sport, like netball in Australia and England. Sport is huge in US schools yet there wasn’t even a boys soccer team at school. There was only a girls team and there were only girl team leagues for local schools to play in.

I suspect the influence from countries to the south of the US has helped grow soccer in the US.

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1 hour ago, Copa said:

If it was true in Australia the huge numbers of junior soccer players over the last 3 or 4 decades would have thrust a professional soccer competition to the top of the mountain in Australia.. but that hasn’t happened.

Last week’s Raiders game out-rated the A-League grand final which was on at the same time.

So there’s more to it than just having lots of juniors..

You make a good point Copa, but, the trouble that soccer has in Aus is that the public don’t have access to top level soccer. The A League is far from a top standard in comparison to Prem or B’liga.

A more accurate example would be the large viewership for important Socceroos matches and Euro club tours. That would lend support to the claim that if you played it growing up, you are more likely to watch.

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2 hours ago, fighting irish said:

 

There's no doubt that there's more to it than that Copa but I wonder how soccer will look in Oz in 20 or 30 years time. Its happening in America. Let's wait and see.

You GD are writing off, the opinions of the author of the article, who may be much more informed and therefore better qualified to make that statement.

What I think, you two fella's are leaving out of your assessment, is the value of persisting over a long period of time and ensuring increasing numbers year on year (a la Newcastle).

I'm sorry but in my opinion, your view is just an excuse for not doing anything and salve's the conscience of the lazy.

Your attitude largely explains why we're in the mess we are in now, facing a very real existential crisis.

We are simply too thin, on the ground. 

I'm not writing it off, I'm simply saying I've never seen any evidence to suggest that it is actually true. 

For all I know it could be true, but so far as I have seen there's little to no actual evidence to suggest that it is the case and a fair bit of evidence to suggest that it's not.

Also we don't know that Richard Hinds is more informed than us, nor do we have any reason to believe that he is, and given his track record on any sport that isn't Aussie Rules I highly doubt that he is more informed than your average Joe.  

2 hours ago, fighting irish said:

What I think, you two fella's are leaving out of your assessment, is the value of persisting over a long period of time and ensuring increasing numbers year on year (a la Newcastle).

At this point I'm an old ###### man, and for at least the vast majority of my life, and possibly even all of it, soccer has had the highest participation rates of all the football codes in Australia, and possibly all other team sports as well. The only sport that might have pipped them is Cricket on occasion.

My whole life Australian soccer has utterly failed to convert those massive amounts of participants into supporters, and on top of that they were failing to convert them into supporters long before supporting European leagues was accessible or trendy in this country. If all it took was time for those participants to suddenly start supporting teams then it would have happened by now, in fact it would have happened at least 30 to 40 years ago, so obviously it's a little more complex then simply persisting for an extended period of time.

On top of that you have Basketball whom have had good participation rates since at least the late 60s or early 70s, and have been growing at a steady rate since then (and had boom periods in the 90s as well as recently). Yet despite those facts it has also utterly failed to convert those participates into supporters as well.

So without looking at other counties (because I know for a fact that soccer has had a similar experience in all of the Anglosphere outside of the UK) we have the start of a pattern where sports with good, and in soccers' case the best, participation rates for decades now and that hasn't resulted in strong support for the local top competitions. 

Now it could turn out that there are other factors in play and that participation does have a big impact, but given the evidence to hand it really doesn't seem like it does it!?

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1 hour ago, Sports Prophet said:

You make a good point Copa, but, the trouble that soccer has in Aus is that the public don’t have access to top level soccer. The A League is far from a top standard in comparison to Prem or B’liga.

A more accurate example would be the large viewership for important Socceroos matches and Euro club tours. That would lend support to the claim that if you played it growing up, you are more likely to watch.

Anybody can pull good numbers for a one off or rare novelty event.

Look at the Olympics, every four years everybody is suddenly a massive fan of track and field, gymnastics, dressage, shooting, etc, etc, etc, when a year earlier you couldn't have paid 99.999% of them to watch even 10 minutes of any of them. 

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17 minutes ago, The Great Dane said:

I'm not writing it off, I'm simply saying I've never seen any evidence to suggest that it is actually true. 

For all I know it could be true, but so far as I have seen there's little to no actual evidence to suggest that it is the case and a fair bit of evidence to suggest that it's not.

There's an alternative argument that folk who spend half their weekend playing the amateur game want to spend the other half of the weekend with their families, rather than watch the professional game.

"We'll sell you a seat .... but you'll only need the edge of it!"

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5 hours ago, fighting irish said:

Good article. I've copied out these two lines.

"This is based on a rationale that has underpinned much of the AFL's growth across Australia — those who play the game are many times more likely to watch, attend, buy merchandise and otherwise support the game."

"In the COVID-19 era, the Code Wars winners will be those sports which hold their nerve when cutting budgets and continue to invest in development and growth."

These quotes seemed particularly poignant to me. (The bold, underlining emphasis, is my own).

For goodness sake, lets get our ars...s in gear and focus on increasing participation numbers year on year. 

It's particularly important that any work done is modelled on best practise (and not having to continually re-invent the wheel) which is why I'm urging ''the game'' to create a ''how-to'' guide based on what's happening in Newcastle and/or anywhere else where we can collate good practise and make it available to anyone with ambitions to grow the game in their area. 

I have been thinking about this very thing the last week or so. Given the plethora of threads on the topic, `London Strategy`, `Growth of the Game`, parts of the TWP thread and now even the `code-war ` thread amongst others. There is obviously an appetite for discussing this.

I think importantly we have to distinguish between spreading the game into areas where there is little or no previous exposure to Rugby League and those areas that may already have amateur clubs and competitions and exposure to top flight Rugby League but not be strong RL areas.

Toronto Wolfpack are probably an extreme version of the former, where approaching schools with a strange code would most likely be met with `thanks but no thanks`. The only way forward I see for a club like that is to have a successful team that Dads and Mums take their kids to or even themselves  where they might think `Hey I might give that a go`, or alternatively sign the kids up. In conjunction with development officers get the ball rolling from there.

The second category is I imagine what you are more interested in creating a `blue print ` for. Questions like:

1) how do we get into schools;

2) what if schools are unresponsive, what do we do in response to that;

3) what is the best ways to help local clubs;

* with their recruitment,

* player retention and training, pathways,

* finances

I know there are people on these pages who are or have been involved in these sort of issues, probably your self included it would seem, I would love to know their experiences, what worked for them and what didn`t.

 

 

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If you look at Ireland,  the most popular sports in terms of attendance are Gaelic Football,  Hurling and RU. Soccer attendances are poor because the pro leagues are poor. But I would wager the most popular sport among sports followers is Soccer, and by some distance,  particularly Rangers and Celtic,  and Liverpool and other premiership clubs. I suspect the same is true in Australia. If you ask the sports followers in Oz which sport they follow as in read about,  watch on tv, soccer would be high placed, not necessarily number 1, but well placed.  I've seen the A league , it's pants! I seem to remember Man United or Real Madrid or whoever getting 100,000 for an exhibition game.

Now if the Premier league did a Super League and had a team from say Melbourne in it, like SL had or maybe still has in 2021 with Toronto,  then I'm sure Melbourne in the Premier league would get 60,000 per game at least. Of course such an idea is logistically impossible and a dumb idea to boot. 

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10 minutes ago, Griff said:

There's an alternative argument that folk who spend half their weekend playing the amateur game want to spend the other half of the weekend with their families, rather than watch the professional game.

I can say with absolute certainty that that is wrong just from my own experience. 

If it was correct though then surely you'd want to keep participation as low as possible to maximise the amount of people who have time to watch the professional game.

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5 minutes ago, The Great Dane said:

I can say with absolute certainty that that is wrong just from my own experience. 

If it was correct though then surely you'd want to keep participation as low as possible to maximise the amount of people who have time to watch the professional game.

What if you play Friday nights ?

"We'll sell you a seat .... but you'll only need the edge of it!"

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1 minute ago, HawkMan said:

If you look at Ireland,  the most popular sports in terms of attendance are Gaelic Football,  Hurling and RU. Soccer attendances are poor because the pro leagues are poor. But I would wager the most popular sport among sports followers is Soccer, and by some distance,  particularly Rangers and Celtic,  and Liverpool and other premiership clubs. I suspect the same is true in Australia. If you ask the sports followers in Oz which sport they follow as in read about,  watch on tv, soccer would be high placed, not necessarily number 1, but well placed.  I've seen the A league , it's pants! I seem to remember Man United or Real Madrid or whoever getting 100,000 for an exhibition game.

Now if the Premier league did a Super League and had a team from say Melbourne in it, like SL had or maybe still has in 2021 with Toronto,  then I'm sure Melbourne in the Premier league would get 60,000 per game at least. Of course such an idea is logistically impossible and a dumb idea to boot. 

The ratings simply don't bare that out.

Most Aussie football 'fans' you see wearing big European clubs' jerseys are posers frankly. It's more a fashion statement then an actual symbol of their fandom. The same is true of a lot the American sports.

Also there's no chance in hell that an EPL team would average 60k a season, well not after the initial novelty period at least.

When an EPL team draws 100k in Australia it's because they are drawing people from right across Australia and neighbouring countries because it's a once in a lifetime opportunity to see the team live. You simply wouldn't be able to sustain that sort of support on a bi-weekly basis.

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15 minutes ago, HawkMan said:

If you look at Ireland,  the most popular sports in terms of attendance are Gaelic Football,  Hurling and RU. Soccer attendances are poor because the pro leagues are poor. But I would wager the most popular sport among sports followers is Soccer, and by some distance,  particularly Rangers and Celtic,  and Liverpool and other premiership clubs. I suspect the same is true in Australia. If you ask the sports followers in Oz which sport they follow as in read about,  watch on tv, soccer would be high placed, not necessarily number 1, but well placed.  I've seen the A league , it's pants! I seem to remember Man United or Real Madrid or whoever getting 100,000 for an exhibition game.

I was at the Melbourne Cricket Ground in 2013 when Liverpool played a friendly against Melbourne Victory. Over 95,000 there which I believe is the highest soccer attendance for a game in Aus.

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21 minutes ago, Griff said:

There's an alternative argument that folk who spend half their weekend playing the amateur game want to spend the other half of the weekend with their families, rather than watch the professional game.

I'm sure that is right.

With respect, I'm not talking about these people.

What I'm suggesting is that by introducing the footy (ball and the rules) to children in an environment where they can play the game with the emphasis on fun, they are likely to view the game positively, for the whole of their lives.

That's whether they go on (in later life) to play, officiate, spectate, fund raise, form and administer clubs, etc. etc.

Teaching the games skills at a young age, will convince more kids that they ''can do'' rugby league and want to be involved, in some way.

For the majority, who don't go on to play, or those whose playing days are over, then having an elite club, or national team, they can align with makes it easier to hold their interest, (which might explain why the Australians haven't developed pro Soccer clubs) so I agree, there's more to developing the game quickly, than just increasing participation numbers but what i'm saying is, that whatever else you do, you must do the grass roots development, to ensure increasing numbers are exposed to it.

We already know, in England, that just resting on our laurels and saying, its the greatest game there is, is just not enough

The way the game is introduced to them is critically important too. It needs to be delivered by people who understand kids, and can nurture their interest while ensuring, first and foremost, we have the child's best interests at heart.

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36 minutes ago, The Great Dane said:

Nothing's stopping you from watching Thursday, Saturday, or Sunday...

Why are we creating this weirdly specific situation that isn't at all representative of the vast majority of people's experience?

Because there's no evidence to suggest that "the vast majority of people's experience" (and I'd suggest that "perception" is a more accurate word) is correct.

It's just somebody's opinion.

"We'll sell you a seat .... but you'll only need the edge of it!"

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