Posted by: scribe9 | September 25, 2010

It ain’t over ’til it’s over

We watched contraband TV tonight. Obviously not rugby–we watched the Grand Final of Australian Rules Football. Yes, we actually tuned in to watch the Game Across the Ditch, even though the Auckland paper didn’t even mention that it was being played today.

Australian Rules is a very demanding game. The fields are about 150 yards long (there’s no set length) and the players essentially run all the time. They’re a lot bigger than soccer players. We first watched it when we lived in Australia years ago. Then I was sitting high in the stands, or watching on TV from cameras distant from the field. Now the cameras are closer, and I can see that it’s basically a free-for-all like rugby, but with more pulling on shirts rather than grabbing legs and rears. So I don’t really watch so much as glance at the screen once every five minutes.

The Grand Final is the Super Bowl of Australian Rules. The teams work their way up the Premiership Ladder. When we lived in Perth, the local team was the West Coast Eagles. Since they finished dead last this year, we had to find a different team for which to barrack. Barrack? Yup–since in Oz slang “root” means “have sex”, one “barracks” for one’s team instead. The coach of the Eagles has since moved to Collingwood, which was in the Grand Final, so we were for Collingwood. Both it and St. Kilda, the other contender, are suburbs of Melbourne, where the game was developed 150 years ago and where most of the teams are based. And the Grand Final is always played in the Melbourne Cricket Ground, commonly known as the MCG. (Cricket is played in the summer, Australian Rules in the winter.)

When we turned on the TV an hour and a half before the game, there was a pregame worthy of the Super Bowl–lots of talk of players walking onto the ground as players and walking off as legends. Yes, the usual hyperbole, with pictures of players–oops, legends–from years gone by. There was no half-game show–it isn’t just like the Super Bowl.

The game was hard-fought, and ended in a tie. So one player from each team addressed the crowd and said, “See you next week.” Yes, that’s right–no tie-breaker, no sudden death. They just replay the entire match. The crowd seemed stunned, and we certainly were. I can’t imagine how the players must feel, to have been so close to finishing the season, so geared up for this game, and now have to do it all again. Sheesh! We’ll probably watch again next Saturday. If it’s another tie, well….

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