AFL: The entertainment and sporting sectors are under enormous pressure due to the massive explosion of online entertainment in the form of casinos, poker and the ever growing slots and games. Television, too, has had a marked impact on the number of people willing to make the oft times time consuming. And arduous trip to the stadiums but for sport to survive. There have to be enough bums on seats to fund each endeavor.
IRB Sevens Shines World-Wide
The first sporting code to embrace the shortened form of the game was, in fact, Sevens rugby and although the first known game of rugby contested by only seven players was a fund raiser way back in 1883, the inaugural, officially sanctioned, tournament took place at Murrayfield in 1973.
Today there are literally dozens of national and international Sevens tournaments but by far the biggest and most popular is the current IRB Sevens World Series. It is made up of eight separate events played throughout the rugby playing world. And includes the celebrated Hong Kong and Dubai Sevens.
The abridged game is all about speed and time. And apart from cutting the number of contestants in half, the match takes only 15 minutes to complete. This, in effect, means an entire tournament can be held over a week-end!
Sevens has become one of the most popular spectator sports today and consistently enjoys sell-out crowds at both the Commonwealth Games and the World Cup Sevens and administrators are currently battling to have it included at the Olympics soon.
NFL’s Baby Brother, the AFL
The summarised version of the hugely successful NFL, America’s National gridiron football league. Is the AFL, or the Arena Football League, and as the name suggests, the game is played in a padded indoor arena. It is a direct spin off of the NFL and was the brainchild of former NFL player. Jim Foster, who went on to patent the idea in 1990 after it started taking off.
AFL is played with only 8 players and there are four 15 minute quarters. Drastically reducing time on the pitch but it has taken time to come of age and currently attracts over 12 000 spectators per game. A smidgen compared to the 67 000 roaring fans who, on average, watch each NFL battle. The good news is one of America’s top cable television networks, ESPN, has bought a stake in the AFL. And will televise at least 17 showdowns live as well as the ArenaBowl, the year-end AFL final.