Anyone who's lived in England would know that the football (soccer) season over there goes for 12 months. There are nine months or so of actual play, then three months of transfer gossip and/or watching the England national team lamely crash out of a major tournament. Cricket, which is still largely a niche sport in the UK, has to fight for back page real estate even in summer.
Australia is heading this way now too. The football season just won't go away. Summer still belongs to cricket, and to a lesser extent to the A-League, which is doing a decent job of being a summer footy fix.
But the winter sports just won't leave us alone. AFL and NRL, winter's two dominant sporting codes, are muscling their way into the news cycle on a daily basis now, in a deliberate attempt to suck air from cricket and soccer, and to sell 2017 memberships.
Today's news, which isn't really news at all, but which is being reported everywhere, is the 2017 NRL season draw, in which it has been revealed -- and holy crap, you won't believe this -- that teams are actually going to play against other teams next year in matches.
No, but really.
In fairness, there are one or two talking points in the draw, namely that the Rabbitohs will play the Tigers in round one, which means long-serving former Tigers skipper Robbie Farah will front his old club, which he left after an unresolvable feud with the coach. There will also be two Friday night games, the first at 6pm, which is good news for fans having an after-work drink in the pub, but terrible news for anyone trying to battle Sydney traffic, as most of the early games will happen in Sydney.
Otherwise? Whatever. Teams will play teams. Not a compelling news story, if by news, you mean a thing that is actually, you know, new.
But that's how it is now. There are announcements upon announcements from sporting bodies in the off-season, each less momentous than the next. They might be about sponsors, or team list changes, or participation figures at grass roots level, or god knows what.
There are also events upon events in the off-season. The AFL follows its grand final week with club awards nights, then launches into the various drafts. These are ostensibly cattle sales masquerading as public interest. Though to be fair, the AFL has done a good job of giving the draft a kind of game-show drama, using America's NBA draft as its model. If you're really keen, it's on Friday night in Sydney and will be televised.
There are also the tedious end of season tours. Thankfully, the AFL scrapped the International Rules series against Ireland's best Gaelic football players this year, but rugby league just had a four nations thing, which nobody watched because it was on at 3am from England, but which bought the NRL a few more mentions.
Having said all of this, public interest is clearly there. Sydney's Daily Telegraph website splashed with the NRL draw for most of Thursday morning and the lunchtime period. The NRL website had five stories ready to roll. Meanwhile the AFL has published a whopping 71 news stories to its website this week, and it's only Thursday. A huge crowd turned out at Essendon training this week to see nine players returning from drug bans. People care. Some people want football year round.
This reporter is not one of them. Summer is a time to recharge the football batteries. Wake me in, oh, about February, and I'll get my head around winter sports then. Meantime, there's an important Test match starting today which could shape the future of Australian cricket.Suggest a correction