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Posts Tagged ‘MCG’

Laura and I are now on year two of our “adventure” and we have learned a lot about Australia, ourselves, and each other.  One thing I love above (almost) all else is Footy or Australian Rules Football (AFL).  I love the game and look forward to watching my Hawthorn Hawks play their game that is more physically grueling than any American sport, more exhilarating for both fans and players alike, and honestly just a better sport than any I have ever seen or played.

I know this is a bold statement due to the fact that I come from America the home of the NFL (National Football League) aka Gridiron to the Aussies, NBA (National Basketball Association), MLB (Major League Baseball) and NHL (National Hockey League) where players and coaches alike are paid not in thousands of dollars but millions and the media portrays the players as if they were Gods….or stars in an upcoming hit TV series.  This has given me one more reason why the AFL is now my number 1 sport.  In the AFL players are ‘big deals’ if they sign million dollar contracts and the most this will be is 1 million per year up to 5 years.  The other thing is that the majority of AFL players are rarely in the news for extra curricular (aka illegal) activities and seem to be very grounded individuals even though they risk brutal injuries and receive major criticism from their fans every week.

Everything revolves around the game for these athletes; they live, eat and breathe footie.  They train like Olympians and they must if they want to play full games which will leave them bruised, battered and drained from running approximately half marathons each game.

You have a great mixture of players, ones like Buddy Franklin, who is by far one of the biggest names in footy right now, and of course plays for the Mighty Hawks.  He can do things that make the men guarding him look like little boys and go on to kick 13 goals in one game!  Then you have players like Sam Mitchell, another legend on the Hawks side, who is a man built for the hard ground work, always seeking out the ball and getting it to the outside players who have the legs and magic to exploit the defenses weaknesses.  Finally you have players like Cyril Rioli, my favorite player, who is a player that does things that are literally out of this world.  Rioli has been called the ‘little wizard’ and ‘little genius’ and rarely goes a full game without doing something spectacular.  This can be anything from turning his opponent inside out on his charge to kick a goal or laying on a tackle that his opponent didn’t even see coming.

I was recently asked if I believe if the AFL could find a home in the good ol’ USA.  I responded by stating that I don’t believe we have the current talent pool that would be needed to play the sport.  The men that play the sport are a mix marathoners, rugby players, soccer players, and footballers.  They play the sport for the love of the game; without pads, little regard for the next game, and for relatively little pay.  The fans are spoiled with fair priced tickets, easily less than $80 per ticket, and a game that hasn’t been tainted with America’s culture of ‘bigger is better’.

I know I’m being harsh on my home country’s sporting culture even though I’ve had years of enjoyment playing and watching many American sports.  They are part of who I am.

But this is about AFL…Footy.  So here is to the Mighty Hawks and the sport I have grown to love.

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Alright so we did go to a ball game but it was a game of bowls not pitches and the batters wear the safety gear instead of the catchers.  You may be thinking to yourself what sort of outlandish game am I writing about? The answer is the game of Cricket.  A game where test matches last 5 days, yes, that is 5 days worth of play before a victor is determined.

Like so many things the game of Cricket has received a recent face lift due to the younger generation’s lack of attention spans and appreciation of vintage games.  The face lift I have mentioned is called the KFC T20 Big Bash League (http://www.bigbash.com.au/) in which the 5 day long game has been squeezed down into approximately 3 hours worth of play.  We enjoyed a Melbourne Stars game with some Aussie friends at my beloved MCG

Let me paint you a picture of what this strange game is about.  First imagine yourself holding a cup full of your favorite cold beverage, beer in my case, and sitting with 20,000 – 40,000 other people waiting to be entertained by a guy bowling (pitching), a guy batting and players fielding on a field in the shape of an oval hoping to stop a ball from going past a white rope that surrounds the oval.  Throw in a few good friends, your wife if you are lucky, a sprinkling of fireworks, and a lot more of those cold drinks and you have yourself a Twenty20 Cricket Match.

If you want full details about the Twenty20 concept please visit: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Twenty20.  We enjoyed the live game as a good way to visit with friends, watch a professional live sports game for a relatively low ticket price, and enjoy a few of our favorite cold beverages, of course.

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