Football played in the United States seems to be having more and more excitement off the field than on it. Ever since Donald Trump came to power, the NFL stadiums have been turned into political arenas where players expressed their dissatisfaction with the government and one quarterback, Colin Kaepernick, even lost his place on the team because of all the conundrums. Furthermore, the New England Patriots dynasty is still alive and well, winning their sixth Superbowl trophy this February but at what cost? The 53rd Superbowl was the lowest-scoring final game in the history of the sport, with both teams, respective champions of their divisions, scoring only 16 points with only one touchdown in the game.

The fans across the globe are getting tired of all the controversies, as the game itself is getting slower and duller and there are long pauses between plays. However, the NFL is not the only league of its kind, as there is a fairly similar sport in the Land Down Under. The difference is Australian Rules football is much faster and more attractive to watch. Since the new season is just about to start, you might consider watching it, because you will easily grasp the rules, not that different from the NFL.

The shape and size of the playing field

The first thing you’ll notice if you are sitting in the stands of watching a game on cable is the shape of the field used for AFL. Unlike standard pitches that you might be used to in NFL, rugby and even soccer, the field is not rectangular but rather oval shaped. This is because of the origins of Australian Rules football date back to the time when cricket was the most popular sport on the continent. Even today cricket and AFL are played on same multi-purpose fields.

There is also a significant difference in the size of the field, mainly because the NFL has a strict standard of 110 meters in length (100 yards) and 49 meters in width. In AFL, the size of the field can vary significantly so the length can be anywhere from 130 up to 185 meters, while the width is 110 to 155 meters.

Tired of All the NFL Controversy? You're Just in Time for the New AFL Season

The ball and the number of players

Another difference is the shape of the ball. While all three sports, rugby, American football, and Aussie football, use a ball significantly different than the one used in football played in Europe, egg-like football is not uniform in shape. The one used in AFL is a bit more elongated and its tips are not that “pointy” as those of an NFL football. In addition, the AFL ball weighs a bit more and it feels harder to touch.

If you take a look at the sidelines of an NFL game, you might think that hundreds of players are involved but those are actually different teams, like offense, defense or the special team. In fact, at any given time, one team can have at most 11 players but the substitutions are not restricted in any way. There are three subs in Australian football as in soccer but more players are allowed on the field: 18 per team to be exact. This is because the field is larger in size, as we have stated earlier.

Tired of All the NFL Controversy? You're Just in Time for the New AFL Season


Another major difference between the two sports are the goal posts and the scoring system. From afar, it might seem that there are two long uprights in both sports but in fact, AFL has four of them! Because they are used only in Australian football, local clubs have to turn to specialized manufacturers like Pila goal posts if they want quality on their grounds. In American football, there are just two goal posts as scoring is simpler.

The scoring

If you kick the ball between the goals posts you get 3 points and if you rush or pass into the end zone you get 6 points. After a touchdown, you can convert by kicking for 1 extra point or make a play for 2 extra points. There is also a safety worth 2 points but is too complicated to explain. In AFL, there are no complications because the only way to put points on the scoreboard is by kicking the ball. If it goes between the outer two posts then that’s a “behind” worth 1 point, while a ball flying between the inner two posts is a proper goal worth 2 points. Interestingly enough, there is no crossbar in AFL but there is one in NFL.

The differences listed here are just the major ones, as there are many more details that separate NFL from the AFL. However, you might have guessed from the rulebook that AFL is a more flowing and a faster sport with an egg-shaped ball. There are no plays, so the ball is almost always live, meaning a more thrilling match for the fans. This charm is something that the NFL had lost during a previous couple of seasons.

Tired of All the NFL Controversy? You're Just in Time for the New AFL Season

Liam Smith is a young and aspiring Australian blogger with a passion for everything related to home, design, and lifestyle. He has a B.Sc. in Interior design and is an avid reader.