A few Sundays ago I decided to watch Australian rules football for the first time. As a complete amateur, all I knew about this game previously was that a) it looks a lot like rugby and b) them Aussies like their footy. Cold-blooded creature that I am, I was curled up on the sofa underneath heaps of blankets moaning about the fact that I will not be comfortable for a single minute throughout this devastating Melbourne winter. That being the situation, I had no choice but to turn on the television as any activities requiring me to surface from the mound of couch blankets were obviously not feasible. Lo and behold, Sunday is the perfect day to become acquainted with football, which I’ve been meaning to do for some time.
The game had yet to begin when I switched it on, so I got to enjoy what I found to be distinctly amusing opening activities. For one thing, there were a bunch of people dressed up in Star Wars Stormtrooper outfits standing appropriately stoically in the middle of the field. This mystified me. Then I chuckled a bit as a very old-fashioned song about tigers played while the Richmond Tigers ran about the field in a stunning display of physical fortitude. Really, they were running unreasonably fast considering that the game had not even started yet. Don’t they need to save some energy for the game? My housemate asked me why I was giggling somewhat maniacally and I told her about the inexplicable Stormtroopers. “It’s May 4th,” she said. “You know. May the 4th be with you?” I was delighted to learn that this is a thing.
I got bored of the opening festivities and started to check email, another activity that I can do with almost every inch of my body covered by a blanket except for one brave, exposed hand. Typically, the game had been under way for about five minutes before I noticed it had started. This reminded me of a Red Sox game I went to with some equally sport-ignorant ladies in which none of us noticed the game had started until it was the bottom of the second inning. We were enjoying the atmosphere and presumably chatting about boys.
First of all, I don’t understand the rules. Like, I don’t understand if it is possible to foul someone in this game. It is so unbelievably physical that it’s hard to imagine what these players can’t get away with. So far I haven’t noticed any of them outright punching or kicking each other, so maybe those actions are off limits. Something has to be. Actually, I feel cheated that no one has been punched or kicked yet. When I go to a real-life game I’ll make a point of shouting “Punch him!” to helpfully remind the players what the crowd is really there for.
Secondly, as noted by Jackie Jormp-Jomp, who has just recently developed into a rabid footy fan for the following reason, footy players are seriously doing all right in the body department. It appears to be a requirement that you must be gorgeous in order to play. This is in stark contrast to American football, in which it is required that 80% of a team be built like tubs of lard, in order to effectively block the tubs of lard on the opposing team. Perhaps it is offensive to compare them to lard, but I feel that it is quite illustrative.
Third, the field is fucking huge. These players must be in very good shape to not only be knocking each other about for an hour but also to be doing this while repeatedly running up and down the length of this enormous fucking field. Also, the field is sort of shaped like a football. Does this count as meta?
After the game ended, I was left with more questions than I had to begin with. How do you score? Who is allowed to score? Why does that one team have so many more points than the other? How are most of the players still standing? This one footy viewing experience tells me that the participants are slightly more respectful than hockey players, but I find this suspicious. The overall vibe is very hockey-esque. I’ll expect more bloodshed and amusingly old-fashioned team entrance songs at my next football venture.