The four codes of Australian footy analysed in Code Wars

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Australian sport is in an incredibly unique position, one not found anywhere else on the globe. Australian sport consumers are blessed with four codes of ‘footy,’ all competing for revenue, eyeballs and talent, and Code Wars, published by Dr. Hunter Fujak, takes a deep dive into the factors that have made the Australian football sporting landscape what it is.

The book covers AFL, soccer, rugby league and rugby union, which are all called ‘footy’ by various different groups of Australians. Released in March 2021, Fujak does not aim to describe which code is the best, but more so take an analytical view of the available data sourced for three key parts for the book, all which are “independently readable” according to Fujak.

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The first act – as Fujak refers to it – evaluates and discusses the intertwining of all four codes as part of the larger sporting landscape in Australia. This aspect of the book is extremely factual while also utilising anecdotes, both personal and others, to convey the landscape.

The second act looks back on the past, analysing both the good and bad decisions that have left their lasting impression on the makeup of the four sports. Fujak does not shy away from discussing the key events of all four footies, particularly the failures of each individual code, and the benefits of hindsight.

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The third and final act goes the opposite way to the last, as Fujak turns his attention to the future. Will the four sports all be around in two decades time? How will COVID-19 induced pandemic effect the scene? Will the ‘sleeping giant’ every truly wake up? The facts are presented for the reader to pick-up on, and without drawing exacerbated conclusions, the information and options going forward are presented in a reasonable manner with no detectable bias from Fujak.

All in all, this book can be boiled down to one word – fascinating. Having a unique sporting makeup, in a relatively small country, Australians have never seen any level of depth in an investigation like the one Fujak has done, and that has opened the door for a wave of new information to come rolling out of Code Wars.

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As Fujak makes note, of the millions of sport supporters in Australia there would be very few, if any, who truly have an appreciation and genuine interest in all four codes of footy. This has meant there has likely never been an individual in the position to have enough of an educational understanding to put forward a book or research paper or any other similar form to what Fujak has done, making this truly one of a kind.

That is what creates the fascinating nature of this text. Debating its contents will be almost impossible – even though the information Fujak presents is all objective – as there is simply no individual who can claim to have a higher understanding than Fujak on the topic. While millions of Australians can have a vested interest as supporters of their own codes, none can objectively disagree with the assertions put to them, making the book truly fascinating.

No one may ever know if Fujak has covered the complete story, or if he has deliberately left out aspects. But the narrative he describes is enthralling and certainly worth the read. However, it certainly contains the potential to upset some of the more diehard fans of different codes, offering truths some may not want to hear.

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Without being an expect on all four codes, it makes it difficult to level major criticisms. The one aspect that is unfortunate about the book, and completely out of Fujak’s hands, was the COVID-19 pandemic.

While he has accounted for it in his book, making mention and reference to it at numerous times, the severity of the pandemic has changed the way sports will operate for a long time into the future, that is a simple fact. Fujak’s task of writing about four topics, all with their own long and relatively interrupted history, with correct figures was made incredibly challenging by the four topics vastly changing the way they operate in some senses, and little to no data available on how they can rebound out of the pandemic.

Other than that, Fujak’s account appears meticulous in its detail, and is well worth a read for not just the average sports fan, but one with business and management interests as well.

It will not lead to a ‘my sport is better than your moment’, rather an enhanced understanding of four of Australia’s biggest sports.

Rating: 4.5/5 stars.

Feature Image Credit: Brisbane Roar

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Seb Mottram
Sports nut studying Media comms and Marketing at Monash.

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