Sunday, 24 April 2016

I love sport.

Sometimes I like to pretend that I'm a cool, diverse, hip young creature who likes to try out new things, and I will head to Suncorp Stadium to watch either the South Sydney Rabbitohs or the Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs take on the Brisbane Broncos (as much as I love my Lions, I can't muster any love for the Broncos. Sorry Brisbane). I will say this right off the bat: AFL and NRL atmospheres are NOTHING alike. The closest you will come to an NRL atmosphere at an AFL game is when you go to a Giants game.

The first major difference is the aggression. NRL atmosphere is very aggressive for most of the game. They want physicality and aren't afraid to vocalise it. AFL crowds by comparison are more about barracking for their team - until either a) someone pulls a dog act (ala Steven May) b) the umpire really, REALLY stuffs up or c) there's a traitor on the field. Then the aggression of the NRL crowd looks like rainbows and cupcakes compared to how vicious an AFL crowd can get. Going back to the Steven May example last weekend, I have NEVER been a part of such an angry crowd before. We wanted him DEAD. Deader than dead. His blood smeared from one end of the Gabba to the other. Another time I've been at the receiving end of a vicious crowd was none other than one of the most passionate supporter bases, Essendon. It was back in 2013 when we beat them at Etihad. I was 100% certain that the Essendon fans surrounding me were going to kill me. I was truly terrified for my life. Even though I've sat with angry Souths fans before, I never really felt that sort of righteous fury.

Next is the noise. NRL fans just keep going and going and going and going...AFL fans on the other hand tend to be a bit quieter at points. It's the difference between the games, in NRL there are greater periods between scores, meaning the fans need to chant to keep themselves amused. They certainly have much longer and more interesting chants than most of the AFL fans (the exception being the GWS Giants - for such a young club, they've certainly carved an identity for themselves). The quicker pace of Aussie Rules means quick, repetitive chants that can be finished quickly in time for the next play are much better suited, thus less creativity.

I've mentioned the Giants twice already, but I think they prove an important point - the AFL and the NRL should NOT be competing against each other. I am watching a Giants game right now, and they've brought their Western Sydney Rugby heritage to their chants, which add an amazing flavour to the game (take a hint you Gold Coast Scumbags!). Can you imagine marketing a sporting weekend in Queensland if the AFL and the NRL got together? Go to a Titans game on the Gold Coast on Friday night, head to Metripong on Saturday afternoon for the scums game, then a trip up to the Gabba for a Lions game and then on Sunday off to Suncorp for a Broncos game. I can hear Queensland Tourism licking their lips already! They need to start working together - not just for the betterment of the individual codes, but for the betterment of sport in Australia in general. Think about how both codes could benefit from cross-pollination - faster-paced Rugby, more physical Aussie Rules!

In fact, why can't all sporting codes just work together? Or am I just using too much logic?

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