The impacts of transport accessibility and remoteness on Australian Football League (AFL) talent production: Findings from the ‘Talent Tracker’ project
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Does transport accessibility influence how many elite sportspersons regions produce? Accessibility and remoteness research has proliferated in the era of geographic information systems (GIS), but seldom within sports research. Studies in Australia and the US reveal that sports talent is more likely to come from communities of less than 500,000, but more than 10,000 people, suggesting spatial accessibility effects. The Talent Tracker project has identified the junior region of origin for the 1,290 players who were drafted and played at least one game of senior Australian Football (AFL) in the period 1997-2010. Junior AFL participation data (13-18 year old males) for the same period is used to determine spatial measures of annual average 'talent yield' (draftees produced per junior participant). The results are matched with Accessibility/Remoteness Index of Australia (ARIA) data, which provides a measure of spatial accessibility via the road network, for all Statistical Local Areas in Australia. Limitations of the methods include possible areal errors through aggregation in both datasets. Statistical correlation results suggest an association between accessibility/remoteness and talent yield across the SLAs. Mapping outputs highlight particular problems for extremely remote locations. At a finer grain, the results produce a more intriguing picture of where the places are in Australia that have been over- and under-producing AFL players, raising further questions as to how transport may be an influential factor. The findings may help sports bodies better understand the necessary spatial conditions influencing both elite competition recruitment structures and access to elite coaching.
35th Australasian Transport Research Forum Proceedings
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Regional Analysis and Development