The game has the highest spectator attendance and television viewership of all sports in Australia.
The annual Grand Final is the highest attended club championship event in the world.
The game features frequent physical contests, spectacular marking, fast movement of both players and the ball and high scoring.
Points are scored by kicking the oval-shaped ball between goal posts (worth six points) or between goal and "behind" posts (worth one point).
During general play, players may position themselves anywhere on the field and use any part of their bodies to move the ball. The primary methods of ball-movement are kicking, handballing and running with the ball.
There are rules on how the ball can be handled. For example, players running with the ball must intermittently bounce or touch it on the ground.
A distinctive feature of the game is the mark, where players anywhere on the field who catch the ball from a kick (with specific conditions) are awarded possession.
Possession of the ball is in dispute at all times except when a free kick or mark is paid. Throwing the ball is not allowed and players must not get caught holding the ball.
Players can tackle using their hands or use their whole body to obstruct opponents.
Dangerous physical contact such as pushing an opponent in the back, interference when marking and deliberately slowing the play are not allowed, with free kicks, fifty‑metre penalties or suspension for a number of matches, depending on the seriousness of the infringement.
The AFL Commission approved several alterations to the rules of the game, to come into effect for the 2019 season.
With respect to 50 metre penalties, the player with the ball:
With respect to kicks after the siren, a player in this situation:
The 'hands in the back' rule interpretation has been repealed so a player can now:
Where there is uncertainty over who is the designated ruckman, the ruckman for each team will still be required to nominate to the field umpire.