Gyfox - as a long time visitor to Sydney, with good friends there, I have never understood the antagonism towards Aussie Rules & it being dismissed as a Victorian thing, not to be taken seriously. You don't find this anywhere else, nor in reverse.
Growing up in Port Adelaide, there were local clubs for soccer, rugby, hockey & baseball all in winter - so we were exposed to those sports & were not ignorant of them. Of course they had to compete against 8 local football clubs! However, I found soccer & rugby incredibly boring, & limited in the skills needed.
Another thing that puzzled me about Sydney - there was no appreciation that Aussie Rules is Australia's unique code of football, with a much longer history & community involvement?
Growing up in the eastern suburbs of Melbourne an area which could arguably be called the heartland of Australian rules in Australia you were only exposed to one thing - footy. Cricket was there as well but usually it was an afterthought. All other codes were not even on the radar within my sphere.
To use the terminology of the time, soccer was wog ball and only came to prominence when the World Cup was on with all talk only being about England pretty much. During Italia 90 it was the
game of the playground for the month but then as soon as it was over interest stopped. In the environment in which I lived I was never exposed to it. Only through SBS did I start developing an appreciation of the NSL and the EPL with passing interest in the Socceroos come WCQ time. Even when the EPL came to prominence in the mid 90's I had it a couple of times when it was often assumed just because you wore a soccer top (in this case Southampton) it was automatically Italian.
Rugby league and union wasn't seen or heard. If it was that was only due to the fights and punch ons or it being a game for 'bum sniffers'. If you asked most people back then in Melbourne (80's and early 90's) and probably even now they wouldn't be able to tell you the difference or know that they were too distinctly different games as rugby was the universal word to describe both. I heard it very often back then and still do now. In fact I even used to do it for quite a while as a sign of lazyness, not to mention as a sign of scorn before I grew to appreciate. On two distinct occasions I remember peers of mine being abused because they wore Wallabies jerseys. One was called a sheep fucker and a Kiwi because he wore the Australian rugby jumper to school free dress. Even when one of the popular kids wore from memory a Norths beanie to school once because he previously lived in Sydney when younger he was told to f**k off back there, albeit with less venom due to his status in the student hierarchy.
Up until my sporting schism in the mid/late 90's everything was Aussie rules with a developing interest in football. I could watch it on TV, knew all the teams and grounds but by hell or high water I couldn't get anyone to go with me to NSL games. However soon as I made the decision that football is by far the superior game to my liking I made every effort to be involved.
Me moving to Sydney introduced me more to league. Prior to that I had no interest at all never attending Storm games. Now I prefer watching the NRL over the AFL because I have made an informed choice about what game I prefer. Now that I have returned to Melbourne I still chose the NRL over the AFL. Same goes with union. I have no interest at the International or Super levels but chose to have an interest in grade rugby as it was more to my liking.
The other factor as well is proximity. In Sydney I lived very close to NRL and Shute Shield grounds. This immediacy made it easier for me to make an informed choice to take further interest.
Football on the otherhand was on the other side of the Harbour plus a bit more however as it was my game of choice I didn't use natural impediments as a barrier or excuse to attending.
It is funny that most people from Melbourne believe that Australian rules is the best form of football, people from Sydney believe the same thing about rugby league or union depending on what school they went to and people from England believe the same about soccer.
It is usually based on what sport you grew up with and/or your parents made you watch/play.
I would say that very few people would objectively weigh up the pros and cons of each code and then decide which one is for them
Definitely. The best example I have seen of this personally is my 13 year old nephew. Growing up he had an interest in a few sports playing union and football at various stages. Union was probably his main interest because of it being the main game of his father and him going to Waratah matches however he was open to other games.
I spoke to him about football and the A-League and took him to occasional NRL games as he lives close to Brookvale Oval. He used to enjoy the experience.
However upon stating secondary school at a very prominent GPS school his mindset and outlook on sport has changed totally. Everything now is solely about union because if you play union you have 'bragging rights' and that all other sports are now inferior especially football.
I questioned him about this as he's a very intelligent lad and said to him bluntly 'your school is crap at union, most students play football as it is clearly a more popular pastime - what is there to brag about?' When i mentioned other codes like league and football all I got was more dogma about 'bragging rights'. It seems like the sportsmasters are trying to indoctrinate a dying breed with one last ray of hope.