Foreign Sports in Foreign Lands

And now more dispatches from the front lines.

The weather in Perth hasn’t been fantastic for us, but we’ve been making due. Saturday it was a bit on the drizzly, overcast side of things, so it became an Australian sports primer of a day.

I’m going to state for the record, that I am now firmly sympathetic to women who learn about sports later in life. Asking the average American male when he learned about football or basketball is largely like asking when he learned to walk. “Hell I dunno, longer than I can remember.” Sports ends up being a second language, and most guys really can’t understand how anyone doesn’t understand these “simple” games. There are comedic monologues, constant blog posts and a whole cottage industry within humor related to teaching a girl how to be a sports fan.

Try picking up a foreign sport that you’ve never watched a minute in your life at 26 and then get back to me.

Instead of battling weather, Benny and I grabbed some food and watched both AFL (Aussie Rules Football) and international 20/20 Cricket.

Benny has been training me over the past few years on footy, which is a rugby-esque game with fewer rules. The long and short of the game is that two teams of 9 men compete to kick an oblong leather ball through a set of uprights extending upwards from the ground. There are no pads, tackling is constant, and the rules on illegal hits are more based on the “sniff test” than some canonical law. It is a fun game to watch, and while strategy takes a while to understand, the rules are largely simple enough that most people will have a decent grasp by the end of their first 4 period (20 minute/period) game.

Cricket on the other hand is a convoluted morass of rules, tradition and abject jackassery that requires 2 whiteboards, a scale replica, and a first year law textbook to explain. Some forms of cricket go on until one side concedes (this could take literally 5 days) while others have a pitch count for expediency (until the bowler (pitcher) rolls a non-ball, the definition of which has more loopholes than American corporate tax law.)

Cricket is essentially a game which resembles baseball in the most general of senses, but with an esteemed rulemaking assembly of demon monkey trial lawyers. After watching about 2 hours of the Australia/West Indies 20/20 Match, I now have a reasonable idea of the vocabulary/scoring but will still be surprised every 15 minutes as something completely inexplicable elicits a round of golf claps from the crowd, commands the highest announcer praise in British commentary “OH HO, good form there,” and causes the nearest Australian to pour another large drink while shouting about an obscure rule that he is either unwilling or unable to divulge to me.

To all the women who learned about sports later in life. You have my sympathy.

More to come after we attend a polo match on Saturday. I’m told it involves heavy drinking while wearing bowler hats in the presence of ponies. It all sounds terribly exciting.

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