For over 150 years, football has dominated the winter sportscape of Australia – after all, Aussie Rules (or ‘footy’) was originally conceived as a means of maintaining the fitness of the Boys of Summer – cricket players.
And, while the official presence of footy in the States is only coming up on its 20th year – the flip-flopped nature of seasons in the hemispheres has always meant the sport is played concurrent with the AFL season on paper, only in summer. This is an inconvenient truth of planet Earth, or at least in playing an Australian game in the Northern Hemisphere. After all, not many would be daring enough to play, say, Boston at Minnesota during a Minneapolis February.
Florida, as seemingly in most things, is different. And, there lies the opportunity to play Aussie Rules year-round in the USA.
With Florida summers known to be a grueling 6 or 9 month stretch of high humidity, ‘feels-like’ temps eclipsing 100 most afternoons, along with more-than-occasional wash-outs due to deluges like clockwork – the USAFL clubs in Tampa Bay and Ft. Lauderdale nonetheless soldier on through waves of heat coming off the ground and frequent requests for in-game IVs.
Come this November, when daytime temps in ‘up North’ begin their annual free-fall, highs in the 80s (with considerably lower humidity) signal not just the beginning of Floridians call ‘Autumn’, but also the launch of Aussie rules season aligned not with the calendar – but with the season.
With teams in Central Florida, Major League Footy will kick-off a season running November 19, 2016 thru February 18, 2017 – occupying the ‘off-season’ portion of the USAFL campaign, while taking advantage of Florida weather to play the game in the closest climate to a Victorian winter as exists in the States.
With daytime temps generally in the 60s and lower 70s in the depths of what passes for ‘chilly’ season in the Sunshine State, conditions will be ripe for showcasing competitive Australian football in North America that’s at last squared up with the most basic feature of the Down Under – playing in the ‘winter’, not just based on what the calendar says.