Opinion: The glory or the ‘gravel’: what keeps fans flocking to the AFL?

October 2, 2015

Emeritus Professor Gary Wickham looks at the “glory-to-gravel ladder” for all AFL teams in an article for The Conversation

Emeritus Professor Gary Wickham looks at the “glory-to-gravel ladder” for all AFL teams in an article for The Conversation

As thousands of football fans flock to Melbourne and millions more ready themselves to watch the 2015 AFL grand final, Emeritus Professor Gary Wickham looks at the “glory-to-gravel ladder” for all AFL teams in an article for The Conversation.

In his article "The glory of the ‘gravel: what keeps fans flocking to the AFL?”, the Emeritus Professor of Sociology at Murdoch discusses the stoic resolve built through footy-following; especially for those long suffering football supporters whose clubs have endured more than 70 years without tasting the ultimate success.

“By this mentality, gathering glory is not the be all and end all of a life well lived – that’s sometimes frowned upon,” says Gary Wickham.

“What’s much more important is the stoic willingness to stare down hard times by shovelling gravel (usually only metaphorically) in the hope of building something better, even if the “better” turns out to be more shovelling alongside other like-minded people.”

Through careful calculations, Gary Wickham reviews the percentage of premiership seasons to non-premiership seasons for all current AFL clubs and looks at the possibility of having a new team going to the top of the “glory-to-gravel” ratio ladder after the weekend. He continues on to say that, “even for the mightiest of clubs, more than 85% of the years they’ve sweated, strained, and endured broken bodies (and that’s just the fans) their reward has mostly been gravel piled upon gravel".

To read Gary Wickham’s full article, click here.

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