What is the National Sport of Australia?
Australia is a country known to love their sports. There are many popular sports in Australia that are widely celebrated. However, the national sport of Australia is considered to be cricket. Other almost national sports of Australia include Australian Football and rugby.
In this article, we’ll uncover stats on Australia’s national sport, how it rose to popularity and rules of the game. Also, we’ll briefly touch on Australia’s other popular sports that did not quite get the crown as the national sport of Australia.
The national sport of Australia is cricket. First, let me explain what cricket is since this sport is not widely played in the Western world. Cricket is a team sport involving a bat and ball. Teams consist of 11 players per team and the sport is played on a pitch. It is a 22 yard pitch with a wicket at either end. The goal is for the batting side to score by striking the ball bowled at the wicket with a bat and the player running between the wickets. The most similar sport in America is probably baseball, but the way it’s played and scoring system is still quite different.
Today, cricket is known not only as the national sport of Australia but also the summer sport of Australia. Participation peaks during summer (September-April). The 2017-2018 National Cricket Consensus showed 1,558,821 people engaged in some form of cricket competition or program. As the current Australian population is roughly 25 million – that means about 6.25% of the population is actively playing cricket. Of these active cricket participants, about 30% of them are female.
Cricket does not only have a lot of active participants in Australia but also has a huge audience of spectators. Official audience data shows that 93.6% of Australians watched at least some cricket on TV in the 2010-2011 calendar year. That is a lot of cricket!
This obvious popularity is what makes cricket the national sport of Australia. Cricket is also immensely popular in other countries including India, Pakistan, and Sri Lanka. Read on to learn more about how cricket rose to such popularity in Australia.
History of Australian National Sport
The national sport of Australia did not simply rise from the dust. In fact, the first recorded cricket match took place in Sydney in December 1803. That equates to over 210 years of cricket! With that said, there are even earlier reports of cricket matches in Australia in the first colonies. So, cricket could have been played for much longer. Either way, the national sport of Australia has endured for centuries!
It took almost 50 years until the first intercolonial cricket match in Australia was played between Victoria and Tasmania in 1851. 10 years later, the first English team toured to Australia in 1861. Then, in 1868 the first Australian team toured England. During subsequent tours, Australia finally beat England in 1877. This marked a turning point for the rise of Australian cricket standards.
Moving from the mid 1890s to the 1st World War, Australia improved. During this time they had many great players and it was known as the golden age of cricket in Australia. Following the World Wars, international cricket competition resumed. Australia was always a competitor on the world stage from this point forward. Fast forward to 2007, Australia won the World Cup of Cricket!
It is safe to say that victory solidified cricket as the national sport of Australia.
Other National Sports of Australia
Other than cricket; the national sport of Australia, sports are a big part of society in Australia. There are many other very popular sports. The closest two sports in popularity to Australia’s national sport of cricket are Australian rules football and rugby.
Australian Rules Football
While not the national sport of Australia, Australian rules football actually has the highest spectator attendance and television viewership of all sports in Australia. Annually, Australian rules football draws an average spectatorship of about 7.5 million.
Australian rules football is also known as Aussie rules football or footy. This contact sport is played on a modified cricket ground. Aussie rules football had its first origins in Victoria back in 1858.
Rugby sites 3rd on the list in Australia in terms of popularity. Australia has a rugby league and a rugby union. The two combined draw about 3.2 million in spectatorship annually.
Like Aussie rules football, rugby is a contact sport. However, it played on rectangular field instead of an oval field. The rules are also quite different.
The first rugby league in Australia dates back to 1907 when the New South Wales Rugby Football League was founded.
Other notable sports in Australia
Soccer, tennis, and basketball round out the other sports at the top of the list in Australia in terms of total spectatorship.
One sport not to be forgotten in Australia is surfing! Austalia is often referred to as one of surfing capitals in the world. There are over 2.5 million recreational surfers in Australia! That means over 1 in 10 Australians surf as a recreational activity.
Surfing is a way of living in Australia and dates back to 1915. Australia has had many surfing legends including recent professional surfers and world champions like Mick Fanning and Joel Parkinson.
Australia is a nation of many sports, not just one national sport of Australia. While the national sport of Australia is cricket, sports like Aussie rules football, rugby and surfing all play an important part of shaping Australian culture.