Crio’s Question: Does size really matter?

Does size really matter?

“Blockbuster” crowds still attract attention – people cheer when the attendance figure gets posted and the match report invariably begins with a reference.
But, outside of the big draws (mostly “same town” battles), it is apparent that AFL crowds are down.
Do I go as often as in the past? No.
Does it matter? I’m unsure.
Times are rejigged for TV and, let’s face it, the broadcasters pay the big bucks. We are still implored, of course, to buy memberships and assured that each dollar counts – though “they” don’t mention that the importance is in the ability to thence attract sponsors…
TV ratings tell the answer and they, allegedly, are healthy (despite AFL being a game unsuited for TV – a discussion for another week!).
I’ve been to enough race meetings and Shield cricket to know that this is not just an AFL scenario.
Weekly sports crowds, generally speaking, have plateaued at best across the globe. The financial squeeze, “Gen whatever” and cable TV are blamed.
Does it matter?
And what does it mean for the next generation?


  1. Stainless says


    The general decline in sports crowds probably mirrors the well-documented decline in civic participation in many activities (clubs, societies etc).

    For headline sports like AFL, there is a wealth of options for following the game apart from physically attending and for all that crowds might be up or down, I think it’s popularity is bigger than ever. It’s simply a different world now from the times when you were either there or you missed out.

    Case in point was the Richmond-St Kilda game. Sunday twilight games are horrendous for attending (especially from Drouin) but quite a nice way to ease into a relaxed Sunday night at home. Guess which option I took? Did it make me any less devoted a supporter? I don’t think so. I watched every minute with the same devotion as I would have in the stands. What was remarkable was that 52,000 hardy souls actually attended such a mundane game at such a horrendous time. But that probably says more about the Richmond bandwagon than it does about the point at issue.

    Where attendances become a concern is at the lower levels of sport, particularly if lack of attendance equates to lack of interest and, therefore, participation. The AFL can thrive with the support of 10 million couch potatoes. The local suburban league can’t.

Leave a Comment