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Day 54: AFL Grand Final II – One Day in “October”

October 1, 2010

It’s the world’s most infamous “do-over.”  Collingwood and St. Kilda hit the Melbourne Cricket Grounds for their second Australian Football League champion game in as many weeks after last week’s 68-68 tie.  The league’s arcane rules regarding this, apparently unchanged since the days of British colonization, mandate that tied teams in a Grand Final replay the entire game the next week.

The rest of the country’s sporting culture including the racing season and the Rugby League’s final, has been forced to either cede the spotlight or push their schedules back a week to accommodate the unusual circumstance.  The AFL and Melbourne Cricket Grounds are thrilled by the extra revenue for TV and tickets, fans of the two teams have gained preferred access to tickets over corporate sponsors, who have already had their hospitality needs fulfilled.  The league had to scramble for entertainment; where INXS provided last week’s pre-game show, Lionel Richie now steps in (Why, yes, this IS the year 2010.  Why do you ask?).  The pomp and circumstance has hushed, and the focus appears to be on the game itself.

If the game is still tied after regulation tonight (9:30pm Pacific time), the title will be decided in extra time.  If the replay lives up to expectations, I may have to shift my initial opinion of the replay.  Fans seem to be genuinely anxious to witness a unique moment where the truest supporters have greater access to a world-class championship sporting event.

When I first began Year Without Football, I noticed I was a bit more aware of football mentions, logos, merchandise than I normally would be.  It’s the same communications principle that dictates you tend to notice commercials and advertisements of products more once you purchase them.  Conversely, when you consciously attempt to avoid something, your mind tends to react more when you notice it.  This definitely stood out to me during the first Monday Experiment a few weeks ago when entire posts often contained only a single sighting or eavesdropped phrase.  Now that the English Premier League is in stride, the Major League Baseball postseason is approaching and the college hockey season is set to drop the puck this weekend with a slate of exhibition games, it’s been surprisingly easy to stick to the Year Without Football plan.

Whereas I would flinch when coming across a mention on Facebook or sprinting from the room when a football-themed ad appears on television, I now skim past these out of habit and habitually ignore normal mentions as white noise.  My attempts have become more passive as the project progresses.  I couldn’t tell you the records of any of the teams in the NFL, or who is ranked #1 in the college polls.  But by next week the sports calendar begins to load up.  I’ll be curious to see how the media attention towards football stands proportional to the other events on the calendar.



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