Don’t call me a trendsetter or anything, but it looks like I’m not the only American who thinks Aussie Rules Football is kinda ridonk. I was enjoying my daily caffeine fix at Blip (damn they need a website already so I can link to them!) this morning when I noticed a giant picture of Charles Barkley on the cover of the Daily Telegraph’s sports section. I found this odd, since I hadn’t seen any headlines about him at ESPN.com or SI.com, plus it’s not even basketball season yet. And it’s not like they care that much about the NBA over here anyway. Hmmmm…
“CHARLES BARKLEY SPARKS CROSS-CODE FURORE” proclaimed the headline. Intrigued (and chuckling at the fact that this headline might as well be in Chinese for American sports fans), I turned to the inside cover to read on. Apparently Sir Charles was giving an interview on ESPN radio last weekend and somehow Aussie Rules Football came up.
“Why would anybody in the world want to play this sport?” he asked. “‘I don’t want to insult the Australians [but] I am like, ‘These guys are some damn idiots.’ Nobody plays football without pads every week for three, four or five months and don’t make any money.” He then continued: “At least in the NFL, you are going to kill yourself and … you get to be a millionaire after it’s over.”
Is it any wonder he was my favorite basketball player growing up? (Michael Jordan was way too boring and predictable for my taste.) Anyway, someone in Australia got ahold of these quotes this week and apparently there was a great uproar in Melbourne (as I learned last week, AFL fans can be very defensive). The Melbourne paper, The Age, even had a funny story about Sir Charles where they photoshopped him into a Geelong Cats uniform:
I was totally cracking up at the story, although the Telegraph article revealed that it was all sort of much ado about nothing. Apparently Barkley got confused and was actually referring to Rugby League, since he attended a South Sydney Rabbitohs match earlier this year with their celebrity owner Russell Crowe. Of course, his point could apply to any version of rugby (btw that’s what the “code” in the headline means; rugby league, rugby union, and AFL are all different codes – essentially rules versions – of rugby at large).
Later in the interview he also mentioned that rugby is on television every freaking day here (great minds think alike, Sir Charles!).