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New book explores the ‘Code Wars’ in Australia’s football market

New book explores the ‘Code Wars’ in Australia’s football market
August 20, 2021

The rivalry between Australia’s four football codes is something to ‘cherish’ according to a recently published book from Deakin University’s Dr Hunter Fujak.

In Code Wars - The Battle for Fans, Dollars and Survival, Dr Fujak states that while the different football ‘tribes’ want to see their particular football code on top, the erosion of one or more of them “would undoubtedly leave the sport landscape poorer.”

Noting that AFL is practically unassailable in its position at the centre of Australian football culture, Dr Fujak’s work explains that each of the other codes face pressure for different reasons and have also failed to make the most of their opportunities over the decades.

While particular events briefly allow the three other codes of rugby league, rugby and football to take centre stage - for example, for the State of Origin, Bledisloe Cup and men’s and women’s World Cups respectively - they are “relatively limited artillery shells” against the entrenched cultural norms of the AFL and its fans.

Despite the author’s view on the AFL’s supremacy, Code Wars does not attempt to say which football code is the ‘best’ or ‘worst’, but it looks at the uniqueness of the Australian sporting landscape and considers issues such as:

  • Why the Melbourne and Sydney sporting cultures are so different.
  • Why Wagga Wagga has produced so many elite athletes of multiple sports.
  • Will the AFL ultimately crush its competitors.
  • And, whether concussion will one day wipe out contact football altogether.

It also explores the cutthroat cultural and commercial competition between the codes, and considers what the future may hold at a time of great uncertainty shaped by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Dr Fujak says the book is for those whose interest in football and sport extends beyond what goes on on-the-field, and what shapes that which goes on off-the-field.

Based on data from Dr Fujak’s PhD dissertation, Code Wars translates academic scholarly research into something tangible - and no doubt highly debatable - for the real world.

Dr Fujak is a Lecturer in Sports Management at Deakin University in Melbourne. His PhD was awarded by UTS in Sydney and explored consumer behaviour in sport.

Code Wars is published by Fair Play Publishing, and is available from bookstores and direct from the publisher.

Click here for more information.

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