Sunday, October 08, 2023

Mapping the Barassi Line

The Barassi Line is an imaginary line across Australia that approximately divides areas where Australian rules football or rugby league is the most popular football code. The line is named after Ron Barassi, a former player and coach in Australian Rules Football. The term the 'Barassi Line' was first used by historian Ian Turner in his 1978 Ron Barassi Memorial Lecture. 

The Barassi Line represents a cultural divide in Australia, with different regions showing a preference for one sport over the other. The line is generally accepted to run from Eden on the south coast of New South Wales, through Canberra and Broken Hill, and into the north-east of the Northern Territory. However like many borders around the world the exact location of the Barassi Line is a matter of some contention. Which is why The People's Republic of Couch has decided to settle the matter for good. 

An interactive map in The Barassi Line shows the location of Ian Turner's original border between Australian rules football & rugby league, and the Republic of Couch's new definitive Barassi Line. This new more accurate border was calculated by plotting the locations of all Aussie rules and rugby league football clubs in Australia. Then each suburb in the country was marked as either Aussie rules or rugby league depending on which code had the most clubs. Then by Voronoi mapping this data it was possible to plot a more detailed Barassi Line, showing the real divide between Aussie rules and rugby league supporting Australians.

Back in 2019 Zeit attempted to map the popularity of a number of different sports around the globe. In the article Little Sports Atlas Zeit used OpenStreetMap data to plot where different types of sport are actually played across the globe. 

The popularity of many different sports has a geographical basis. For example ice hockey is most popular in a thin band of latitude in the northern hemisphere - a thin band of latitude which is often cold in the winter and where water often turns to ice. Cricket on the other hand is popular in a few different countries - countries which were all at one point part of the British Empire. 

The one true world sport in the Little Sport Atlas is football. In fact Zeit claims that the map of where football is played could almost double as a map of the world's population.

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