It’s one of those questions that every Australian sports fan has both an opinion on and a pretty good case for: what is Australia’s biggest sporting event?
When addressing this question, it can be looked at a number of ways: what is the most watched? The most attended? The most all-encompassing?
Or just the most exciting and enthralling? Using this criteria, I will attempt to offer a perspective on what is Australia’s biggest sporting event?
The Ashes would be my early pick for Australia’s biggest sporting event.
It fits all the criteria: it’s widely watched, attended, has a Test in each major city, and takes the entire nation by storm.
While to most it is exciting and enthralling, with each Test building up its own unique storyline, those who are not cricket fans could likely not think of anything more boring. However, such is the nature of every sport – there will be those who love it and those who hate it.
The Ashes’ particular ability for national heroes to be made of both individuals and teams through a storyline unique to each Test is what makes the Ashes arguably Australia’s biggest sporting event.
State of Origin
State of Origin is repeatedly the most watched sporting event on TV all year – that counts for a lot.
It no doubt has the popularity to be considered the biggest in Australia. The entertainment value is through the roof – 34 huge men running into each other with the energy of a hate-fuelled state behind them, for 80 minutes straight, trying to cross a white line.
The premise is so simple yet so enthralling and entertaining. It matters little that Queensland have won eight straight years – in fact, it perhaps makes it better.
Every year the series is competitive, no matter how lop-sided the teams are.
The one knock on State of Origin’s case it that it’s not exactly inclusive. The hatred between the New South Welshmen and the Queenslanders fuels perhaps the greatest rivalry in Australian sports, but to the rest of Australia, it’s just another game of league.
AFL grand final
Australian rules is arguably the most popular sport in the country, and even if you don’t agree, the AFL is no doubt the most popular sporting competition.
Hence, it only makes sense that the finale of the league is considered one of the most popular games of sport in the country.
120 minutes of pure skill and disregard for personal safety creates the atmosphere of of one of the most intense battles on the Australian sporting calendar.
It ticks all the boxes – attendance, viewership, entertainment – and it matters little if your team isn’t playing – but if they are, it’s life or death.
While the knocks against it are similar to that of Origin, the champions of the AFL competition generally means a bit to each neutral viewer, and everyone takes a side on the day.
While the Melbourne Cup doesn’t have the same kind of passion-fuelled atmosphere as the other three events, it has it’s own kind of engrossing, intense feel.
Similar to the Ashes, it’s not team-specific, and is popular among (and not limited to) almost every Australian for one reason or another.
Like most other sports, it doesn’t require intense concentration to understand what’s going on, nor does it require the discipline to watch over a long period of time.
The Melbourne Cup is like a five-minute unstoppable coal train that every year stops the nation.
The Bledisloe Cup is one of those series that every Australian wants to win, simply on principle. Losing to the little bother New Zealand always hurts, no matter what is being contested, and that very ideal means that this matters to every Australian.
The games are both widely-viewed and entertaining, despite falling crowds in Sydney.
The way the game is played has Australia on tenterhooks from start to finish – and with the extra spice of trying to beat the gifted little brother, it makes every knock-on and lost ball a soul-crushing mistake.
However, the slow, patient and woeful displays of rugby put on of late by the Wallabies contrasted with the brilliance of the All Blacks is pushing people away from the annual fixture.
Australian Open tennis, Australian open golf, Sydney to Hobart, F1 Grand Prix, Bathurst 1000
What do you think, Roarers? What is Australia’s biggest sporting event?