Aussie sport proving a smash-hit in America
Sports fans across the globe are self-isolating in hope of preventing the spread of the coronavirus outbreak, which has inadvertently given the AFL some additional viewers.
Most international sporting competitions have been postponed or cancelled due to the coronavirus outbreak, including but not limited to the NBA, English Premier League, F1 and Super Rugby.
As sports enthusiasts desperately search for something to watch amid a global health crisis, the American community have surprisingly turned their attention to Australian rules football.
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The AFL competition is being played on US television channel Fox Sports 1 this week, simply because there is nothing else to broadcast.
Australian rules football has proven a surprise hit, American football analyst Pat McAfee labelling it his "new favourite sport".
"I've watched one quarter of Aussie rules Football and I already know that this sport was supposed to be my calling back in the day," McAfee tweeted to his 1.7 million followers.
"This was supposed to be my sport. When my child arrives in the next couple years, his ass is gonna be punting and punching balls all around the house.
"Is this the biggest field I've ever seen something played on? I think so … The AFL's review system is also great. This is insane.
"Also, a referee just threw a ball like 65 yards. It's perfect … I can't believe this is my first time watching a game. This is amazing.
"I'm not ready to declare my fandom just yet. I think that's going to be a rather large decision for me … Still trying to figure what the hell's going on first. Seems like Essendon is a dominant force though."
McAfee even praised the performance of Essendon star Jake Stringer.
"Stringer's a playmaker. Can I buy his jersey? And is it a sleeveless as well?"
Apparently a bunch of Americans have started watching AFL cause there’s no other sport on to watch 😂🏉— Emily Sears (@emilysears) March 21, 2020
The only live sport left on earth! I’m an @AFL fan from way back! I dare say they’ll gain a few new fans in the US in the next couple week. Go the Hawkas!!! @HawthornFC #coronaviruspandemic #quarantineball pic.twitter.com/gN6KfoffWh— Drew Powell (@thedrewpowell) March 21, 2020
GOOD NEWS: there is live sports on right now on FS1.— Greg Tepper (@Tepper) March 21, 2020
ALSO: It’s Australian rules football. pic.twitter.com/8GC4q0PJt7
During Fox Footy's coverage of Essendon vs. Fremantle, Collingwood President Eddie McGuire revealed News Corp CEO Robert Thomson was watching the AFL round one match from New York.
Dozens of other American sporting fans have voiced their new-found love for AFL on Twitter. One sporting fan posted: "I have no idea what is going on but it's quite possibly the most entertained that I've been for days".
Another gentleman posted: "This s**t kinda lit. Still haven't figured out how they score yet."
One more said: "This is an awesome sport. You should totally try it out if you're an American soccer fan. It's way more free-flowing than rugby or American football".
Sport has provided a source of comfort and familiarity during a scary period for many. One American tweeted, "Aussie rules football may be my lifeline from this dystopian nightmare".
A second fan said: "Do not talk to me while the Australian Football League is one, it is literally all I have in life now".
Another posted: "Apparently all we need to get the US sporting public into AFL is a good ol' global pandemic".
NFL Green Bay Packers player Oren Burks even shared his interest in the Australian sport on Twitter.
"Caught a Sydney Giants AFL game in 2017 and really enjoyed it … Man I miss sports!" Burks posted on Saturday.
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Originally published as AFL proves a smash-hit in America