Via this instant mode of social / language immersion, I have learned a lot about the people whose country I vacation or live in. When we arrived in Australia a couple of years ago, I applied myself to the same learning experience. I switched on the TV, and to my joy I realised that we did not have satellite, so we were forced to watch local programs (husband was very upset about this, he missed CNN). That's when I learned about The Footy, watching 'The Footy Show'.
Before I go on, I must explain that Australians will refer to a professional sport with a THE before the said sport (e.g.: TENNIS is to be played casually among amateurs and THE TENNIS is played professionally). THE FOOTY is Australian Rules Football. This is not Soccer, not Rugby, not even American Football, though their ball resembles the U.S. sport slightly.
I will not attempt to explain the game to you, as I am not an enthusiast or a follower of any organized sport; I'm not going to scoff at anyone who is... it's just not in my genetic makeup to be into sports. I will sit through a session of watching and cheering for a team (oh, by the way... never, ever say ROOT in Australia, as in "root for a team", this word means 'to fornicate' down under), but that's it. Even then, I will watch the athletes run, admire the design of their uniforms, wonder why certain colors were chosen for that particular team, and comment on the grass being a lush and vibrant green, but during that whole time, I will be oblivious to the score or the status of each team playing.
'The Footy Show' was loud, brimming with testosterone and they spoke a language totally unfamiliar to me, all about scores, plays etc., and I don't mean the Aussie accent laden English, assuring me that I would not be watching it a second time. That night I became aware of the most followed national game, set it aside in my memory banks and promised myself to pursue further knowledge on the subject, so to be better informed about my new home-country and its inhabitants.
During the time I have lived in Melbourne, plenty of people have volunteered to educate me about The Footy, and I have tried, really tried to understand it, alas... I have tossed my towel in, and given up on all hopes of grasping it. I can tell you that it is played on an oval shaped grassy area, the players are incredibly fit, handsome (they really are), don't wear padding and are often caught in sexual scandals... some incredibly scandalous affairs at that, but are still HEROES in the eyes of their devoted followers, and I might add that they are kind of "excused" by the adoring public with comments like: "that's how those guys are... you know... they're just stupid, fit, handsome guys, who have women throw themselves at them"... which is probably true, but...
...moving right along...
Another interesting bit about the teams is that, each team represents a "type" of person. I'll be honest and admit that I don't remember them all, but one description or stereotype in particular, I was told about stands out. A local friend explained to us that we should at not time ever become fans of the Collingwood Football Club, also referred to as The Magpies (a Magpie is a black and white bird, indigenous to AU, whose colors now represent the team).
He went on to give many reasons but the one which was most memorable was the fact that - in his words: "Collingwood supporters are, what you would call knuckle draggers." As I don't follow any team, I didn't care about his comment, and as I knew no one who was a supporter of the Collingwood team, it mattered even less to me. And then the unthinkable happened... my daughters, out of the blue, started to cheer for Collingwood. What's a mother to do? Let them, of course. Why was I going to let the "knuckle draggers" comment influence me?
Actually, I realised a couple of months back that most of my co-workers are Collingwood supporters, and they are all lovely and very well educated, artsy people... so the "knuckle dragger" stereotype is tossed out the window for good now.
Here's a real 'titty twister' for my 'Collingwood hater' friend: Collingwood won the Grand Final this year (it's like the Super Bowl). In yer face mate!
Though it may appear on the surface that I have become passionate about a sport, I will deny it to the grave... I’m only supporting my daughters’ new found love of sport, and if they choose to go for (be fans of) Collingwood, well doggone-it I back their decision 110%.
An excerpt from an article about the win:
Collingwood wins AFL premiership
AP | 07:24 AM,Oct 02,2010
MELBOURNE, Australia (AP) — Collingwood won the Australian Football League premiership by crushing St. Kilda 16.12 (108) to 7.10 (52) in Saturday's rare grand final replay.After the teams drew last week — only the third drawn grand final in the history of the Australian Rules competition and first since 1977 — the Magpies left nothing to chance in the replay.