Monday, April 03, 2006

Are You Ready for Some Football?

Fall is here, practically overnight it seems. John and I are now in Melbourne, where the leaves have started to fall and the temperature is in the high teens (in farenheit terms, that's approximately the temperature when engineers are still wearing shorts and the rest of the world has put on jackets). It feels a lot like September/October at home, and I can't help but feel like I've gone back in time.

At home, the turn to autumn is inevitably coupled with football season. You know it's fall when Saturdays are spent tailgating and then trying to avoid the traffic. Fortunately, fall in Australia has brought the football with it, making me feel right at home. This, of course, is not American football (which they call "gridiron" here), nor is it the world's football (aka soccer). Here in Melbourne, the fall football season means a very strange sport known as Aussie Rules Football.

I don't really know how to describe it, so I'll just put the link to the official website and you can read the rules yourself. Also, it's hard to describe because I don't really understand it. It's basically organized chaos. Imagine 36 players running around a cricket ground (a giant circle, maybe the size of a soccer field?), kicking a rugby ball for two straight hours with breaks only every 30 minutes. They can tackle just as hard as in American football, but there are no pads. And what really amazes me is that there is no stopping. Someone gets hit and the ball just keeps going. The ball goes out of bounds and the ref just throws it back in. The other team gets posession and they just start running in the other direction. These are hardcore athletes.

Last night we went to the season opener between the Melbourne Demons and the Carlton Blues. Despite the fact that I not much of a sports person, and I had little idea what was actually going on, I fully enjoyed myself. Melbourne got smashed (even I, with no understanding of the game, figured out that their strategy was weak), but the crowd was very into it. The crisp fall air brought out blankets and mugs of hot chocolate, just like football season at home. And to complete the autumn atmosphere, the standard uniform for a good AFL fan is a striped scarf with your team's name and colors. Adorable.

Like I said, I am very much not a sports person, but this is defintiely a game I can understand getting into. Nonstop action coupled with highly athletic players (their stamina and accuracy are pretty impressive) makes for good entertainment. I'll always love Michigan football (because there is no other option), but if Michigan had an Aussie Rules team, I would actually go to those games.


Eric said...

Aussie Rules football is great fun to watch, even if you don't understand a bloody thing going on, just for the sheer athleticism of the players. As a kid, I can remember watching Aussie Rules Football on Channel 9, CBC out of Windsor. I love that the refs are dressed up in suits

Jen said...

Well, we finally have a lovely spring day in this hemisphere. Fall is my favorite season, though, so I'm kind of envious hearing about nippy days and mugs of hot chocolate. And, if there's enough action, cheering on a team can be cathartic. Have fun!