Bear, the specifics don't matter- the underlying point is that AFL is incredibly popular. The AFL's revenue base is far greater than any other Aussie sport, and players get the benefits of that in their remuneration, plus careers in media and everything else.
According to Roy Morgan:
- 438,000 Australians aged 6-13 and 184,000 aged 14+ play AFL.
- 748,000 aged 6-13 play basketball and 340,000 aged 14+.
That's 310,000 extra kids playing basketball and 156,000 extra teens and adults.
Now, 95 AFL players earned over $500k last year. With basketball a very small number (less than 10) earned millions in the NBA....and how many others would be over $500k? Heck, how many others would be over 300k? Another small handful, perhaps.
Think of this in terms of a hypothetical scenario: If you were 15 years old, and you had to stick with one sport only due to the intensity of training etc. You are about the 5th or 10th best Under 16's basketballer in the country, and you are also in the top 10 in the country for Under 16's in AFL footy...if your priority is the opportunity to make a good living then the choice would be fairly easy.
If, on the other hand you're a Thon Maker, 7 foot tall, a freak athlete then you'd go the basketball path.