The Australian Football League is looking to get involved in esports.
As reported by Fairfax, the AFL Commission has given the AFL the green light to move into the virtual realm, in a bid to engage with young people and expose them to the AFL and AFL Women's brands.
It's not clear exactly what form the AFL's involvement in esports will take, although there is talk of the organisation running its own league, and of it buying esports teams.
There is plenty of precedent for the latter: in May, AFL club Adelaide Crows acquired League of Legends OPL team Legacy, and several traditional sports teams and leagues overseas own teams or sponsor players. For example, the NBA’s Philadelphia 76ers, German football club FC Schalke 04, French football club Paris Saint-Germain, and Spanish football club Valencia CF all own esports teams.
There is even some precedent for a sports league running an esports league: the NBA is planning to do exactly that next year with a 17 team NBA 2K league.
The AFL believes that its expertise in sporting governance and running competitions will transfer from rugby league to esports, and that it can help tackle issues including cheating, doping, and match-fixing.
In May, prior to the Commission's decision, the AFL envisioned hosting a tournament at Etihad Stadium.
According to Fairfax, several AFL teams have spoken with Australian pro esports teams (including LoL OPL team Chiefs) about acquisition deals.