Australian Football League

The Australian Football League (AFL) is the highest-level professional competition in the sport of Australian rules football. Through the AFL Commission, the AFL also serves as the sport's governing body, and is responsible for controlling the Laws of the Game. The league was founded as the Victorian Football League (VFL) in 1897, consisting of eight breakaway teams from the Victorian Football Association (VFA). Originally comprising only teams based in the Australian state of Victoria, the competition's name was changed to the Australian Football League for the 1990 season, after the relocation of the South Melbourne Football Club to New South Wales in 1982, the planned 1991 addition of the Adelaide Crows and the admission of teams from Western Australia (the West Coast Eagles) and Queensland (the Brisbane Bears) in 1987.

The league currently consists of 18 teams spread over five states of Australia, although the majority are still based in Victoria (currently ten teams). The most recently admitted teams to the competition are the Gold Coast Football Club and the Greater Western Sydney Football Club, which respectively began play in 2011 and 2012. The AFL season currently consists of a pre-season competition (currently branded as the "NAB Cup"), followed by a 23-round regular or "home-and-away" season, which runs during the Australian winter (March to September). The top eight teams then play off in a finals series culminating in the AFL Grand Final, which is held at the Melbourne Cricket Ground each year. The winning team in the Grand Final is termed the "premiers", and is awarded the premiership cup.

The AFL is the most popular sporting league in Australia, averaging 32,748 people per game over the 2012 season. According to market research, the AFL is the second-most-watched sporting event in Australia, behind cricket. Currently, broadcast rights for the AFL are shared between the Seven Network (free-to-air), Foxtel and Austar (pay TV), and Telstra (internet). At the end of the 2012 season, a total of 707,621 people were members of an AFL club.

AFL players are drawn from a number of sources; however, most players enter the league through the AFL Draft, held at the end of each season. A small number of players have converted from other sports, most notably from Gaelic sports (Gaelic football and hurling) as part of the Irish experiment. Prior to the nationalisation of the competition, a zoning system was in place. At the end of the season, the best 22 players and coach from across the competition are selected in the All-Australian team. Other awards include the Brownlow Medal, awarded to the player judged the "fairest and best" throughout the regular season; the Coleman Medal, awarded to the player kicking the most goals throughout the regular season; the Norm Smith Medal, awarded to the player judged best on ground in the Grand Final; and the Rising Star Award, given to the most outstanding young player in the competition.

Read more about Australian Football League:  Clubs, Venues, Players, Records, Administration

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    Alfred Tennyson (1809–1892)