The game is played between two teams of 18 players (plus interchange players), on cricket ovals or similar-sized grassed arenas which vary in size and may be up to 185 metres (600 ft) long; these are much larger than those used by other codes of football. The game is also distinguished from other games by the fast, relatively free movement of the ball (partly due to the absence of an offside rule) and the awarding of a free kick for any clean catch – known as a mark – of a ball which has been kicked more than 15 metres (49 ft). Spectacular high marks, or "speckies", tackles and fast, fluid play are the game's main attributes as a spectator sport. Despite the game's sometimes rough physical nature, players do not usually wear protective clothing. Although it is a winter sport, pre-season competitions usually begin in late February (that is, in the Australian summer); the football season proper is from March to August, with finals being held in September.
The Australian Football League is the elite, professional competition in the sport of Australian rules football. It was formerly known as the Victorian Football League (prior to 1990), and was established in 1897.