Sport in Australia

Sport is an important part of Australia that dates back to the early colonial period. Cricket, Australian rules football, rugby league, rugby union, soccer and tennis are among the earliest organised sports in Australia. Cricket is regarded as the national summer sport, with people widely participating from the months of September to April. The three most popular sports in Australia are Cricket, which is the national sport, Australian Football, popular in southern and western states and Rugby League, popular on the east coast. Boxing day test cricket match is the most popular sporting event in summer. Sport has shaped the Australian national identity through events such as the Ashes, the Melbourne Cup and the America's Cup. There are a number of professional sport leagues in Australia, including the Australian Football League (AFL) and AFL Women's (Australian rules football), National Rugby League (NRL) (rugby league), the Big Bash League (cricket), Women's Big Bash League (cricket) and Sheffield Shield (cricket), the National Basketball League and the Women's National Basketball League, the A-League and the W-League (soccer), the Australian Baseball League, Super Rugby and the National Rugby Championship (rugby union), Suncorp Super Netball and the Supercars Championship (touring car racing). Attendance for the AFL in a single season attracts more than 6 million people to games, while the NRL draws just over 3 million people in a single season. Historically, rugby league and rugby union football codes have been more popular than Australian rules football in New South Wales, the Australian Capital Territory and Queensland, whereas Australian rules football has been more popular in Victoria, Tasmania, South Australia, Northern Territory and Western Australia. Major professional sports leagues in Australia are similar to major professional sports leagues in the United States and Canada in that they do not practice promotion and relegation, unlike sports leagues in Europe and South America. Australia boasts 7 former world number one squash players, as well as a history of success in the Commonwealth Games. The media plays an important part in Australia's sporting landscape, with many sporting events televised or broadcast on radio. The government has anti-siphoning laws to protect free-to-air stations. Beyond televising live events, there are many sport-related television and radio programs, as well as several magazine publications dedicated to sport. Australian sport has also been the subject of Australian-made films such as The Club, Australian Rules, The Final Winter and Footy Legends. As a nation, Australia has competed in many international events, including the Olympics and Paralympics. The country has also twice hosted the Summer Olympics in Melbourne (1956) and Sydney (2000), as well as the Commonwealth Games on five occasions. Australia is one of five countries to have played in the world cups of cricket, soccer and rugby, along with England, New Zealand, South Africa and Ireland. England plays all three disciplines at elite level, but the other countries are less dominant in soccer. The city of Melbourne is famous for its major sports events and has been described as the 'sporting capital of the world', and one of its stadiums, the Melbourne Cricket Ground, is considered the home of Australian rules football.

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