The A.F.L. and McLuhan’s Tetrad

How the Australian Football League (A.F.L.) is viewed, supported and broadcast has undergone rapid change. This due to the emergence of television broadcast technology such as Foxtel IQ, a device allowing the user to pause, rewind and record two television programmes simultaneously. Additionally, Foxtel IQ is the platform which channel FoxFooty, an exclusive 24 hour A.F.L. channel, broadcasts from. The changes the league has faced, is best explained through McLuhan’s tetrad, analysed by Sandstorm (2012). The tetrad address four aspects of a mediums impact including what the medium enhances, reverses, retrieves, and make obsolete? (Abraham, 2017). 

The medium, Foxtel IQ, enhances knowledge. Supporters of A.F.L. have access to expert opinion, such as past players, lead journalists and organisation executives, offering the supporter valuable and necessary information otherwise not heard. Rewinding of live matches, if an event is missed, the viewer can review it, crucial in a fast paced game. Concurrent analysis of live matches, allowing the viewer to better understand the match and context in which a live event is occurring. Finally, interviews of the players and coaches, entertaining and educational content that fans can consume.

However, when taken to the extreme, the constant desire for fan content, leads to an obsession of athletes effecting them negativley. “With (rise in attention) athletes are increasingly involved in negative off-field issues, it is questioned whether ads featuring athletes have decreased over time” (Ruihley, Runyan and Lear, 2017). The constant analysis of behaviour, negativity impacts on the mental health of athletes as they struggle to live with their social status.

Foxtel IQ retrieves access to athletes that before had become obsolete. Although scrutiny effects mental health, Foxtel IQ has established a platform that gives fans access to the athletes in a controlled environment they feel comfortable with. AFL360, a programme aired weeknights, has athlete segments nightly. This access to the life of an athlete has never been achieved due to their high and exclusive social status.

Foxtel IQ makes casual watching of A.F.L. obsolete. Jenkins (2015) discusses the versions of participation, “Kids fail in their studies or get left out from collective practices because they don’t have the necessary cultural knowledge or experience”. This highlights a will to participate but an inability to because of limited prior knowledge. If a casual fan were to watch the pre-match programme where discussion follows trades, scandals and emerging news, the fan would not understand because the discussion points have the prerequisite of prior knowledge.

Evidently, the change of the medium, to Foxtel IQ, has impacted on viewing, supporting and broadcasting A.F.L. This change can be explained when McLuhan’s tetrad is applied.

(432 words)


Abraham, B. (2017). Digital and Interactive Media.

Jenkins, H. (2017). Defining Participatory Culture. Cambridge, UK and Malden, MA: Polity Press, pp.1-31.

Ruihley, B., Runyan, R. and Lear, K. (2017). The Use of Sport Celebrities in Advertising: A Replication and Extension. Sport Marketing Quarterly, [online] 19(3), pp.132-142. Available at: [Accessed 30 Aug. 2017].

Sandstorm, G. (2012). Laws of media – The four effects: A McLuhan contribution to social epistemology, Gregory Sandstrom. [online] Social Epistemology Review & Reply Collective. Available at: [Accessed 31 Aug. 2017].


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