Friday, March 28, 2014

It's that time of year where I talk about Aussie Rules Football again

I'm pretty sure I lost you all at the title there. That's fine. I expect that. But I really wish you wouldn't all be so closed-minded about something so exciting, so momentous, so super that I cannot hide my excitement. No, I'm not talking about how my bracket is more or less shot or the fact that the New York Mets are opening up the 2014 season on Monday because, apparently, they have to.

What I'm talking about is the glory of Australian Rules Football.

Ok, I can see you pulling away from me here, but stick with me. You're (mostly) Americans. You love American sports like football and baseball and the like. That's great. But it's important to know that Australians are trying their best to get into the things we love here. Really. The 2014 Major League Baseball season opened last week while most of us were sleeping when Clayton Kershaw toyed with the Arizona Diamondbacks at the Sydney Cricket Ground in Sydney, Australia. The SCG is one of the oldest and most picturesque of Australia's sporting grounds and it made for some pretty awesome pictures.

The key takeaway, however, aside from answering the riddle "If the MLB season starts 20,000 miles away and no one's awake to watch it, did it happen," is that the Aussies seemed to enjoy the whole thing. Really, they did. They wrote all about it through their own, uh, peculiar lens, but the whole thing went over like gangbusters.

I am now asking you to do the same with their national pastime.

Yes, I realize many of you think this is untenable because a) the games are on at awkward times and b) you don't care. I'm not entirely sure what I can do about that second one, but luckily this weekend I have a solution for the first one.

My Geelong Cats opened the 2014 Premiership season last week with a ripping victory of Adelaide, which was close for three quarters before Geelong pulled away with a massive final period. Well, Round 2 is this weekend as Geelong pays a visit to the Brisbane Lions this Sunday. Usually footy matches are live during the wee hours of the morning in the United States. Typically New York sees start times of 3 am or 5 am, while the Grand Final, which begins at 12:20 a.m. New York time each year, is about as good as it gets for us.

However, if you noticed when you clicked that game preview a few sentences ago (if you are, in fact, still reading at all), the Cats' game against the Lions (which I guess is just cats against cats if we're being technical), starts at 12:10 p.m. Sunday afternoon. If you do the math quickly, you'll see that Brisbane, Australia is 14 hours ahead of New York this time of year and is watching a footy match at 12 p.m. That means in New York it will be on Saturday night at 10 p.m.

Let that sink in for a minute.

Geelong will be facing Brisbane at 10 p.m. Saturday night New York time. That means for first the time ever I will actually be able to watch a live Aussie Rules Football game with my team during real, normal waking hours. The momentousness of this cannot be overstated. It also will not happen again this season, though a few games come close.

For that reason, I am super excited and shirking all other options for my Saturday night. Perhaps I'll even dupe some friends into watching so they can see just what is so exciting about the sport and why I've become peculiarly obsessed. If you've never watched a whole game before you might surprise yourself with how entertaining and accessible it is. And if not, well, I guess everything isn't for everybody.

But despite what the rest of you have on tap, I know what I'll be doing Saturday night. Won't you join me? If you aren't careful, you just might start enjoying the sport by accident.

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