Aussie Rules Football Is Back

Get the ball and you’re a target. There’s no “in the grasp” crap here. The NFL is a sissy league compared to the AFL!

After Helaine went to bed I stayed on the sofa, playing a little poker and watching TV. As is typical of late Saturday night there was nothing on. Click.

On one channel some guy was wielding a pneumatic wrench assembling a brand new Corvette as the real workers looked on. There’s a confidence builder for potential buyers! Click.

The Seth Rogan making a porno movie I lost interest in a few weeks was back. Click.

John Stossel. Good grief he’s pissed at everything. Click.

And then, finally, I hit ESPN2HD.

The first thing that caught my eye was the LIVE font. There’s not much live overnight especially in daylight. It was Australian Rules Football live from Etihad Stadium in Melbourne (or maybe near it… I don’t know if Docklands is a neighborhood or separate city). Carlton was playing Hawthorn.

Australian Rules Football is crazy. As far as I can tell there’s no padding and the action never stops. They don’t even break for commercials except at the end of each quarter.

The Wikipedia entry has two sentences that puts it all into perspective.

Unlike most similar sports, there is no offside rule, and players can roam the field freely. Possession of the ball is in dispute at all times except when a free kick is paid

Get the ball and you’re a target. There’s no “in the grasp” crap here. The NFL is a sissy league compared to the AFL!

The field is immense. The teams are 18 a side and as far as I could see nearly all young, muscular, fearless and Caucasian.

May I be honest? The real reason I enjoy Aussie Rules Football is watching the umpire signal a goal. He thrusts out his arms which are bent at the elbow. It’s tough to explain except it’s reminiscent of Isaac the bartender’s move on the opening credits for Love Boat.

Today’s game was a blowout. The Blues crushed Hawthorn.

Back in the early days of cable Australian Football was an ESPN staple. I haven’t seen it in a long time. It’s like an old friend is back.

Stretching The Internet

“AFL players have the best hair.” That’s a direct quote from Helen Razer who is hosting the overnight talk show from the Australian Broadcasting Company. AFL, in this case, refers to the Australian Football League.

I’m listening to their station in Darwin, Northern Territory, but at this hour of the morning (it’s past 3:00 AM in most of Australia), the broadcast might be coming from anywhere. Helen keeps referring to “ABC local radio,” followed by a ‘canned’ ID for the Darwin frequency. My guess is this show isn’t local radio as much as it fills in for local radio while most of the country is asleep.

Normally… no, even now… I’ve got no interest in “footy.” I’ve come to listen to coverage of Tropical Cyclone Monica. Obviously, it’s not much of a concern, except possibly as it relates to players’ hairstyles.

At the bottom of the hour, ABC switched to a few minutes of news. Monica was the lead story. It’s a big storm and very close to ‘the top end,’ as the Northern Coast was called. Monica is attacking a desolate, inhospitable area. In the bullseye is Jabiru with 1,200 people – built entirely within a national park.

I grew up on a block with over 1,200 people. Really.

Monica will threaten Darwin tomorrow. Darwin is more substantial, over 100,000 people. By then the storm should be greatly diminished, haing spent a day over land.

Trust me – from listening, it’s obvious this station isn’t meant for anyone outside Australia. It’s not interesting or exciting, but it’s there. It is available via the Internet, as are all the warnings and advice from the Australian Bureau of Meteorology.

That’s part of the unexpected power of the Internet. Much of the web is optimized for disseminating information to the widest possible audience. Other nooks and crannys, like this ABC broadcast, are there for a small but needy audience.

This afternoon, from half a world away, I’m eavesdropping on them.

Blogger’s note: As much as I’ve wanted to stay away from the Real player, ABC’s Windows Media feed wouldn’t stay up for more than a few seconds. I’ve been listening using Real for nearly an hour, flawlessly.