Australian Rules Football
The traditional name of the sport is “Australian Football”. The sport is sometimes referred to by an even longer name, “Australian Rules Football”.

Other alternatives include “Aussie Rules” and “Footy”.

However, for the past 20 years the AFL have made concerted efforts to rename our great game “AFL”.

Around 2000, the AFL commission sent a memorandum to its member leagues that it intended to co-brand the game at all levels. The aim was to use the strong brand of the professional league to promote the game. It was argued that the “word” AFL was easier to remember, so the game would be referred to as “AFL”. This was first promoted heavily in its developing markets, in leagues and governing bodies which the AFL had bought into, and increasingly adopted by the media and at grassroots level. As the governing body, the AFL began to enforce the brand on any newly affiliated leagues.

The move has attracted criticism, particularly from amateur leagues which continue to use the formal name. Further, no other sport in the world is named after its governing body. By way of example, no one plays FIFA (soccer), NFL (American football) or NRL (rugby league).

Further, soccer in Australia has been delighted at this turn of events, seizing the opportunity to brand their sport as “Australian Football”.

It has got to the point where not only kids will inform you that they play AFL, but also adults playing in amateur leagues throughout Australia.

“I play AFL for the Buggalong Wombats!”

No other sporting body in the world has attempted to rename the sport after itself.

We believe that, as part of the process to reform the AFL, it is important that a distinction is made between playing the game at the highest level and at the amateur level.

Players that have worked hard to get to the highest level play AFL football. But the rest of us do not.

Calling the sport “AFL” distorts the fundamental grassroots nature of our great game.

Let’s call it AFL! All the better for marketing in those vital northern states.

Never mind suburban and country teams playing a game of Australian Football League is as absurd as park cricketers playing a game of International Cricket Council.

Don’t worry that calling Australian Rules “AFL” creates the impression the top tier is the game’s only purpose and those at the base of the pyramid are merely there to serve the elite.
Richard Hinds

LINKS
AFL’s obsession with change blinds it to the consequences of endlessly tinkering with the game