What sports are the most popular in Australia

Ray Allen

Australia may have a slightly smaller population compared to the rest of the world, but the number of sports that are being followed in the country is rival to both the United States and China as well.

There is absolutely no sport that you can’t find being practiced in the country. However, that doesn’t mean that every sport is close to Aussie’s heart. There are always favorites and in this article, we will try to find out what those favorites are.

Most of them may seem like common knowledge, but that doesn’t mean that there aren’t any interesting reasons as to why Aussies like to play these sports and most importantly, cheer on them at home with their families and friends.

So, without further ado, let’s find out the top four sports that Aussies adore to play and watch.

Football

Football, or soccer as the Americans would call it is pretty much in the blood of Australians. Being a British colony it was pretty much impossible to avoid the popularity of football, given that the sport was developed in the country.

The very first moment that Australia was announced as a colony by the British Empire, it’s likely that at least one football match was played within the week. Therefore, we can say that football is at the very core of Australian identity.

The term football may be a bit different for Australia than anybody reading this. The reason is very simple, there’s another sport called Australian rules football, which is very similar to rugby or American football. However, the two sports have pretty much nothing to do with each other other than the name.

The popularity of football skyrocketed in Australia once the national team started to perform exceedingly well in global championships. For those who don’t know, the Australian men’s national team is a four-time OFC champion and a one-time Asia champion. Furthermore, they have been named as the AFC Team of the Year in 2006.

Unfortunately, though, Australia’s national team has managed to qualify for the FIFA World Cup only five times, most recently in 2018.

Rugby

Once again, thanks to the close affiliation of the United Kingdom with Australia, another sport, this time Rugby has managed to become one of the most popular sports in the country. Many are saying that if the football scene continues to disappoint in the future, it’s likely that the Australian population will switch to Rugby completely and start watching it much more often.

Being very close to a globally professional competitor such as New Zealand with its All Blacks, Australia has been under pressure to better train and guide their teams to be at their best on every encounter with another country.

In terms of volume, we have to focus on the Rugby Union of Australia, which has nearly 500,000 registered sportsmen nowadays, 52,000 of which are classified as adults.

Another important thing to focus on Australia’s rugby scene is the demand for their players from other nations. You see, most Rugby players aren’t necessarily tied to the national team or local smaller teams. The exchange of players in countries like the United Kingdom, Norway and various other nations across Europe happens almost every single year.

The level at which Aussie players perform on the field usually gives them a high price, similar to how it happens in football as well.

Golf

Golf may look like an exclusive sport for the wealthy in the United States, but over in Australia, it’s considered as one of the most accessible sports for any family to enjoy with a nice drive or walk around the golf course.

You see, the hefty price tag on golfing in the United States is directly derived from real estate prices, which are quite significant in every state. A golf “compound” usually has several golf courses, therefore a significant plot of land is required.

In Australia, we have a similar situation in terms of land usage, but the prices are much lower, especially if owners make their courses on the outskirts of major cities. Because of this, golf became not only a sport to play and have fun but a way to get away from the hectic urbanized areas of the coast.

According to research done by GolfAustralia in 2014, there were as many as 400,000 golfers visiting the courses annually. However, that number was already showing a decline which could be much worse in 2019.

Horse Racing

Horse Racing is very similar to football in terms of being around for as long as Aussies can remember themselves.

The first tracks were opened in the early 1800s and were hosting amateur races. However, over time the popularity kept on growing due to a lack of other forms of entertainment. Add that to the slight lawlessness of 19th century Australia and we get horse racing tracks as a perfect way for outlaws to come and bet on.

And there’s the keyword. The popularity of horse racing in Australia is largely associated with the ability to bet on it. Aussies have a very serious affiliation with gambling, and almost every sport we mentioned above has a significantly large betting community.

As for the other aspects of horse racing in Australia, it became a social gathering location sometime in the early 1930s. During WW2 though, they became even more crowded as United States troops started funneling into the country for deployment.

Commerce was on the rise, and the wages that US troops had with them were to be spent somehow, as not everyone knew if they’d be coming back from the battles ahead. Therefore, the horse racing bets started to funnel even faster, thus growing the industry.

Nowadays, the social gathering aspect of horse racing has taken over the bets, but without these two, the sport pretty much loses its charm for most fans.

One thing you could note is that horse racing could be one of the only sports that people have a dress code for. Naturally, some commercialized tracks allow almost everybody inside, but some tracks have a strict code of sticking to the olden days. This is a place where one can see gentlemen in tuxedos, top-hats and generic victorian era fashion, and the same goes for ladies.