Jarryd Hayne’s move to the NFL was a very closely observed move by the Australian public. Never had a rugby league player of such high profile made a move so drastic, to a football code, nearly non-existent on our shores. However, his move sparked an influx of Australian support for Hayne, his team the 49ers, and the NFL in general. The sharp contrast in rapid support undermined how rare the involvement in American Football was in Australia prior to this point.
It begs the question on why this sport wasn’t yet popular in Australia. One could use the ‘national sport’ phrase, concluding that it is an American based sport and will only be popular in North America. However, we’ve seen over history, many different sports taken away from their traditional countries and thrive in non-traditional sporting areas. There are many amateur competitions all around Australia for Gridiron, and as Hayne’s media attention rises; certainly you would expect the number of players populating these competitions to also increase.
Before Hayne’s move, there was a loose following for the NFL, with supporters watching a few games a year, and wearing their teams merchandise and supporter wear; some for fashion reasons only. The popularity of such related sports video games such as the franchise Madden, has also contributed to the football surge in the Australian market. Hayne’s move has also giving more recognition and media attention to the small number of other Aussies playing in the NFL also, who up until this point, has a small number of fans outside the U.S who new who they were.
The biggest confirmation as to the growth of the NFL will be to reassess in 2 or 3 years and see if there is that same passion that is circulating the Australian sporting community. Surely his presence in the American league will spark others to try and follow in his footsteps, and thus develop more attention for American football in Australia. Although, if Jarryd Hayne is not in the NFL in the coming future, will we still see recently converted 49ers fans supporting their team with loyalty, or will they succumb to jumping on the next newest trend in Australian sport?
Below is the link to my tweets, compiling my progress throughout the assessment, https://storify.com/garthburley/what-s-hidden