First off, I will start by saying I don't run agility. I have never taken a class, and have watched precious few classes. And, I realize that for some people, it is everything they want in a dog sport, and they love it.
For me, flyball is the sport of choice. I love participating in it, watching it, training it, and just generally being around and helping out with the sport.
I spent the morning at an agility trial, which underlined for me some of the main things that makes me prefer flyball to agility. Now, keep in mind, this is my take on comparing the sports, and is totally based on my limited and admittedly biased experience with the two.
First and foremost, flyball is a team sport, while agility is an individual event. Yes, by individual I mean one dog one handler. Sure, you make a lot of friends, have people you hang out with at trials, people you train with, etc., but at the end of the day in agility, it is you and your dog, alone, who determine the outcome of the day. In flyball, it is the combined work of your four handlers, their four dogs, and your box loader. Often tons of help comes from a team captain, a pass caller, ball shagger, and your backup dogs and handlers. Sure, it is disappointing sometimes when your dog runs great and you lose the heat, or no finish, because of a mistake by someone else. That is something you don't experience in agility. But, in flyball, when you achieve something as a team, be it a new best time for the team, a new title for a dog, initiating a new dog, handler, or box loader, etc, it is something the whole team celebrates and goes through together. You don't just have friends or training buddies at a flyball tournament, you have teammates. And to me, that makes a huge difference.
At the agility trials I have attended, both with friends competing and just to watch, there is a lot of down time. Lets face it, watching people walk a course or rearrange equipment between classes is not all that exciting. Then, if competing, you spend most of the day sitting around waiting for your next run, generally (and feel free to correct me if I'm wrong) only getting out there and running 2-4 times total in a day, for about 30 second to a minute. At a flyball tournament, sure, we often get started a bit late. But, once the racing for the day begins, it keeps going steadily all day, with the exception of the very occasional conflict and generally a single lunch break. You get to get out there with your team and race normally 5-8 times in a day, and each race takes 5 minutes or longer. In between races, you can always watch the constant action, or else hang out with your team, talk strategy to people who it will effect directly, and eat from the potluck of great food most teams bring along. All in all, flyball days seem to move much faster, and have more packed into them, than agility days. Then again, I've never competed in agility.
The third thing is how much easier flyball is to understand by the casual observer. Break it down, and it is a race. The first team with four dogs to cross the finish line wins. The winner is indicated by the judge after each heat. You don't have to know much about the rules to get excited over who is going to win. Agility, while a lot of fun to watch, is much more precision oriented. Many things can go wrong on a course that someone unfamiliar with the specifics of agility will not understand, or even notice. At the end of a course, they may not have any idea if the dog did good, bad, or just okay. And, since it is individual format, not run head-to-head like flyball, there is nothing for the casual observer to grab onto and cheer for.
This photo, which I am using from Surf City Flyball Club's website (listed below), shows what I mean about a head-to-head race. An obvious winner, and something an audience can clap for even without knowing anything about the sport.
Being the sport that I have immersed myself in (as we say, flyball is not just a sport, it's an addiction), there are a ton of other things I love about this sport. These are just the top three that going to the agility trial this morning brought into solid view for me. Those of you who do agility, please feel free to comment, correct, or generally brag about your sport being better. I just wanted to share why I think this sport is best for me, and would love to hear from some people as to why you love the sport you participate in.