I write about AFL a LOT. And why wouldn’t I? This is an Australian themed column and AFL is the most popular Australian sport in terms of viewers, membership, attendance, sponsorship… and everything else. But after a visit with my high school amigo (hi Jordan!) I realized: OH NO. PEOPLE DON’T EVEN KNOW WHAT AFL IS.
When I found myself explaining how the sport is played, it felt… bizzare. The rules sound like a bunch of ten year olds who didn’t have the right equipment for a real sport, and thus created a new one. It feels stupid to explain. BUT. It’s an amazing game. Easily one of the most athletic and brutal I’ve seen (if it wasn’t for the high fines, there’d easily be more punch ups than in the NHL). Which is why instead of just telling you what it is… I thought I would explain it in terms you are already familiar with.
When people in North American think of football, they think of NFL. But that has almost NOTHING to do with AFL. At all. Here are the 5 sports that AFL is actually like… sorta.
1. Basketball. The game starts with a tip-off except that the ball is thrown at the ground with a lot of power, which results with the ball going high into the air and the ruckmen (kind of like a big NBA center) jump to tip it to their team. There is also a ridiculous amount of jumping to catch balls, very similar to rebounding.
2. Soccer. Kicking is a primary way of passing. The difference: they drop kick.
3. Rugby. Rugby is a series of passing and tackling which is exactly like AFL. In rubgy, they pass with their hands which they also do in AFL… but AFL has kicking as well. There are also the goal posts which are essential for scoring except instead of two posts leading to one scoring shot (like nearly every other sport known to man) there are four posts for three scoring options. (NOTE: This is probably the most similar sport)
4. Volleyball. You do not throw the ball in the AFL. You ‘handball.’ A handball is, essentially, a volleyball serve – the one you learned in 5th grade before you learned to do the real serve.
5. Wrestling. Okay, not really. But sometimes, I swear that a football game has broken out in the middle of a wrestling match. Their tackling is really intense.
Get the picture? Not really? That’s okay, because it really is a mad game. And here is something to whet your appetite.
What do you think? Interested at all?