Australian Rules Football? Well, it used to be a staple on ESPN back in its infancy (1979). Late night. Middle of the day. Remember?
"I'm sure it was started in our first year, probably the first few weeks or months," said ESPN spokesman Dave Nagle, "and to speak of our programming quality, it was a highlight."
No one even explained the rules; all the network did was run tapes of the Australian broadcasts. But it drew a growing and curious audience. "People took to its bizarre and unique aspects," Nagle said. "It definitely was a cult classic."
The sport might have disappeared from our airwaves, the last game airing on ESPN in 1988, but it still dominates as the fun and games king of Australia.
A FEW BASICS
Ball: Oval, weighing between 16 and 17 ounces, 22.4 inches from end to end and 29.1 inches around.
Field: Oval, with boundaries that can range in width between 120 and 200 yards) and in length between 145 and 250 yards.
Goal posts: Two, on either end, with a shorter set, called behind posts, on the outside of the taller ones.
Scoring: 6 points, called a goal, for kicking the ball cleanly through the posts, and 1 point for a "behind," when the ball crosses a behind line or crosses the goal line without all the conditions for a goal to be scored.
Players: 18 per team on the field.
Ball movement: You can run with the ball and kick it, but can't throw it. Passing it to a mate is allowed by punt-kicking it or punching it with a clenched fist, called handballing.
Periods: 4, lasting from 15 to 25 minutes in different leagues.
Attendance: One of five sports leagues in the world that draw, on average, more than 30,000 per game.
Season: The Australian Football League plays from March to August (early autumn to late winter in Australia), with the finals in September.
Web site: www.afl.com.au