If You’re Australian, Competitive Sport Is in Your DNA
Sports are a significant part of Australian identity. It begins when we are kids playing in the backyard with a round or oval ball and continues when we grow up to become sports obsessed adults. Although Australia recently produced one of their worst Olympic performances, they still finished 10th after much larger nations. Nonetheless, the Australian public considered this to be a failure as they were aiming for a top-five finish. Was the poor performance a one-off or does it reflect the competition for talent in a sports crazed nation?
Sporting All Year Round
Australia has a raft of top level sports with big nationwide followings. Australian Football (AFL) is an iconic sport that isn’t played anywhere else. Until recently AFL and its fans were largely confined to Victoria, its home state, but through funding and fantastic marketing the game has now become the country’s biggest winter code. Rugby Union and Rugby League are two more winter sports with a huge national following, but the emergence of AFL and soccer has created a turf war for talent, TV viewership and sponsorship.
During summer the landscape is clearer, there is an uncompromising commitment to the country’s true national sport, cricket. Australia has been at the top of the cricketing field for the last two decades. During summer you can’t enter a home without hearing a cricket broadcast coming from the TV or seeing a cricket ball flying across the backyard.
The Competition for Talent
Much like the USA where basketball, football and baseball compete for top talent, in Australia Rugby Union, Rugby League, AFL, soccer and cricket are all in direct competition for a limited talent pool. Sports like Australian Football have emerged as a national sport, with clubs spread-out across every major state. The main implication is that all serious sport recruiters begin scouting and competing for top talent at a very early level.
Australia has always had top international Rugby Union, Rugby League, Cricket and even soccer teams, however it will be interesting to see if the talent pool can sustain this trend with so many attractive options on the table for young athletes.