Speccies and short shorts and barracking, oh my!
As an American viewing a sport that was unfamiliar to me, it was love at first sight. Who climbs up the back of another player to catch a ball six feet or more in the air?! It's incredible. Who can watch that, even once, and not love this game? (It's illegal to use another player to gain a height advantage in the NFL.) Then there's all that action and non-stoppage of play! This is a seriously action-packed sport!
Let's talk first impressions to the uninitiated. You will be surprised what catches your eye right from the start.
Although the uniform has changed somewhat over the years, when I started watching footy the players wore shockingly short shorts. Oh sure, if you go back and look at practice photographs of, oh, say, the 1976 Seattle Seahawks, you'll see shorts like the AFL players wear today, but you won't find it on the field in 2013. Even today's footy shorts are short by US standards, and surely you've seen those hideous shorts/skirts that basketball players wear these days! Thus the uniform, complete with colorful socks, is something that every American watching the game for the first time notices and mentions. With a giggle! We love it!
The goal umpire's attire and signalling is also something that catches the eye of the first time viewer, though that is changing through the years as well. The abrupt swinging of the arms to signal a goal is beautiful. I never tire of seeing it, at least for Richmond! If you talk about footy and get a blank look, make the goal umpire's signal for a goal, and often people will smile and say, "Yeah, I've seen that!"
Want to talk commercial breaks? Never mind, there are none! This is non-stop action! There's no time for Dorritos and Budweiser and Chevrolet. Boundary markers? They're a general guideline, not a fast and firm rule. Pads? Pfft, who needs 'em? Players sacrifice their bodies on every play. Endurance? These players are incredibly aerobically fit. An NFL player wouldn't last 10 minutes in a footy match. (In fairness, an AFL player wouldn't last 10 minutes in an NFL game. It's a completely different sport.)
The Fine Print
One of the first mistakes I made as a viewer was to "root" for my Tigers! No, no, you "barrack" in Australia! You most definitely do not "root", my Yankee friends! (Shhhh, we'll talk about it later!)
One of the joys of listening or watching a footy game is being introduced to Australian English, an adventure of its own! Aussie slang is colorful and delightful. Sit back and enjoy the show!