Monday, July 28, 2008

Australian sports: and I thought American sports could be confusing...

So I recently returned from a sojourn to the Land Down Under. It was a business trip, so I spent most of my time working, but I did have some down time in which to take in a bit of the local culture, including Australian sports.

First important thing to note: I was staying in a rather posh hotel in a rather posh room. I thought I'd have more of a tv channel selection and definitely more of a variety, so I'm going to assume what I did get were the channels deemed most of a priority for Aussies - of the twelve or so channels on my telly, three or four were constantly showing either Australian football or rugby. To be honest, I really can't tell the difference between the two, but either or both was always available for my viewing pleasure.

Now, I admit that I only just recently began to understand the rudimentary rules behind American football, so it's not a longshot to say that I found both Australian football and rugby beyond bewildering. Most important note, which most people are probably aware of, is these sports seem just as rough and tumble and full of pounding contact as American football, only the players are running around in nothing more than rugby jerseys and shorts. Score one for the Aussies in terms of physical toughness. Or sado-masochism. Take your pick.

But seriously. American football may be difficult for me to understand, but at the very least I can follow that there are plays, with a clear beginning and an end. One team has the ball, they either pass it or run it, the other team tries to stop them, play continues if the offense succeeds, or they switch sides if the defense is successful. The sports I was watching on television in Sydney had tossing forward and backward, had kicking, had people knocking each other down and then play continuing as if the defense had not been successful. In fact, there were no individual "plays" I could identify. It was kinda like watching American football, 2 years ago, all over again for me.

Some of the guys I was traveling with kinda got into the Aussie sports thing while we were there, or tried to anyway - they attempted to go to a local rugby match, but it ended up not being able to fit into their schedule, and a couple of them invested in a rugby ball to toss around in their own American-style version of the sport, which was basically just touch football with a rugby ball instead of a pigskin...