Last week I told you about a study I read that analysed the preference for foreign and domestic talent in the English Premier League. I then told you I would apply it to Australia. I did warn you that I don’t have the numbers, but I have a few ideas about foreign talent in the various Australian leagues…
I am almost positive there would be no significant impact on attendance and that fans would not show a preference for foreign or domestic players. Foreign talents not only makes up a pretty small percentage of players (only 14 current players, total) but even the good ones are not as widely known as the Aussies. And there aren’t very many good ones (can you even name five?). I will make one exception: Jim Stynes. Players like that impact the game, and attendance.
I also think foreign talent is pretty accurately represented. As I mentioned, there aren’t many good foreign players. Even the ones who are good, aren’t that good. I doubt the damage or contribute to the game… they just are.
And actually, while I’m at it. I’m going to go out on a limb and say they do damage the game. In a book I read called ‘How To Play Australian Football’ everyone seems to think that what makes a good player is practice. Knowing the game, knowing your opponent, knowing how to work the space, opposition and your teammates strengths. Since AFL is hardly an international sport (yet) how can you expect that a foreigner (someone who hasn’t grown up playing the game) to do that?
I’d be interested in seeing this. I can’t seem to find information on the number of non-domestic players in the NRL but I don’t think there are very many (off the top of my head). To me, and perhaps this is a very uneducated assertion, but it seems like this could be the league with the most negative impact. Rugby fans (let me be clear: THE FANS, not the players, clubs or leagues) tend to be a bit… outrageous… and I can see how a foreign player, if they are not performing well, would upset people.
Depending on where the players came from, there could be a significant contribution to the team. Players from South Africa, New Zealand or the UK, for instance, could be beneficial. Players from the US might be a bit more detrimental. That would be an interesting study.
As you know from my previous post, I don’t think Americans do well in the NBL. I don’t think they would affect attendance at all. After all, the NBL has a rule which limits the number of non-Australiasian players per team (limit of 2). I don’t think the fans would care at all.
But performance… I’d put good money on it that non-domestic players are a hindrance. While they know how to play basketball, and many can play it very well, they don’t play it the Australian way. Look at the Hawks this season: more appearances by the Americans… fewer wins (although I’m rooting for them, since I volunteer there – GO HAWKS! I DON’T CARE WHERE YOU ARE ON THE LADDER OR WHO YOU SELECT TO PLAY!). I think the style of play is too different and that they are damaging teams, overall. Let me be clear though, I only feel that way about the American players. I would call them ‘overrepresented’ if we were sticking the terminology used in Part 1. Other players… I’d love to see.
This is the only league in which I fully, 100% support American imports. Baseball is America’s past time so odds are that the US produces some quality players. Not to mention, many ABL players spend time in US in the off season playing for the major and minor leagues. I actually support most international players in the ABL – I think it’s smart. Japan and the Dominican Republic, for instance, also have amazing leagues with great quality players. While I hate to say this, I’d bet that the foreign players provide more marginal benefit than the domestic players. In this case, I assert that foreign players are underrepresented.
It wouldn’t impact attendance. The only way I can see that happening is if there’s a big star, which the ABL hasn’t really landed yet.
What do you all think? Are my assumptions way off base?
Do you want me to run the numbers for any of these leagues? I’d be interested (and willing!) but only if someone else cares, too. Otherwise… I’m just a crazy woman obsessing about foreigners and statistics. Weird.