Statistically, Australians have some of the highest levels of participation in sports both as competitors and as spectators. Among Australians, the highest rates of participation come from the state of Victoria. Victoria is one of Australia's smallest states in terms of area but also its most densely populated. Victoria is home to ten of the eighteen teams in the Australian Football League. It also hosts two top league soccer teams and two top league rugby teams. Melbourne, the largest city in the state and the second largest city in the country, is the annual host to tennis's Australian Open and Australia's Formula One Grand Prix.
50% of Victorians attend at least one sporting event per year, exceeding the impressive 43% rate for the entire country of Australia. In addition to regular attendance at club sports such as Australian Rules Football, Rugby and Soccer, residents of Victoria bring a distinct local flavor when the state hosts international competitions. Locals have always made up a significant number of attendees eats for events such as the annual Australian Open, the 1956 Olympics and the 2006 Commonwealth Games.
Why are Victorians such avid attendees of sporting events? Part of the answer lies in infrastructure. Melbourne has some of the most spacious grounds in both the country and the world. Very few venues anywhere in the world can match the 100,024 seats held by the Melbourne Cricket Ground, which hosts at least one Australian Rules Football match each week and the always sold out AFL Grand Final.
Another explanation has to do with economic development in Victoria. Victoria became an extremely wealthy state starting in the 1850s with the country's gold rush. Social movements in Victoria also pressured society to spread the wealth and create an affluent middle class with disposable wealth. Just as important, the movement brought social reforms such as the eight hour work day that allowed the middle class to have leisure time and spend their money on recreational activities such as cultural and sporting activities.
Sport participation in Victoria has even been the subject of research and writing. Recently, the Australia Society for Sports History published “Sport in Victoria: A History.” The book chronicles the history of the sporting culture in the state and helps us understand why Victorians are so enthusiastic about competitive sports.