Soccer, rugby, and cricket - oh my!

November 24, 2008

by Aaron Schultz

It feels like I’ve been gone for a year, when in fact, it has only been two weeks.

I took the plunge Nov. 1, finally getting married after all these years, and over three weeks in, she hasn’t left me yet.

Granted, two of those weeks we were on our honeymoon, and it might have been a little awkward if Jody (my wife – boy that still sounds weird to write and say) would have left me on our trip since she would have had to sit next to me on our 17-hour flight home.

That’s right, 17-hour flight. Actually, it was two flights, but you get the picture. We spent a long time in a plane.

The day after our wedding we headed to the airport and flew to San Francisco, where we caught a connecting flight to Australia, where we spent 12 days for our honeymoon.

The trip was great, and I only have two real complaints with the first being the ridiculously long flight.

We left Sunday, Nov. 2, and when we reached our final destination, it was Tuesday, Nov. 4. Since we had to cross the international dateline, we didn’t have a Monday, Nov. 3.

Then, on our way back, we left Saturday, Nov. 15 at about 3 p.m., and returned home that same night at about 7 p.m.

OK, it was light when we left, then it was dark, then it was light as we reached San Francisco, and by the time we got to the Twin Cities, it was dark again.

Those first couple days back were a little tough to adjust to. But I guess that is a small price to pay for a trip of a lifetime.

The trip was outstanding, and everything was great, except for my one other complaint.

Being a big sports dork, I couldn’t go a full two weeks without a little sports fix, but that was hard to come by in Australia.

Sure, they like their sports in Australia, but not the sports that we are used to here.

The big three sports in Australia are soccer, rugby, and cricket.

Yes, they do also have basketball, some baseball, and various other sports, but they are nothing compared to those big three.

Our first stop on our trip took us to a resort in the rain forest, north of Port Douglas. If you are not up with your Australia geography, that is in the northeastern part of the country.

The resort was great, but there were no TVs, so my only sports fix on these three days was some swimming in the river that ran next to our resort. Thankfully, it was crocodile free.

Jody and I had also planned on playing some tennis there, but it was hot, and very humid, so we skipped the tennis court.

After three very relaxing days at the Silky Oaks resort, we headed back to the airport in Cairns, and took a flight to Dunk Island for the second portion of our trip.

The island was very cool, and I was able to find a little bit of a sports fix there, but nothing like I had planned.

Upon reaching our room on the beach, I grabbed the Fox Sports program guide, and saw that they were going to be showing an NFL game live. I couldn’t believe it, and was excited to catch a little football action on the tube.

One small problem though, the game was on live at 4 a.m. Monday.

I thought to myself, no problem, Jody would be sleeping, so, at least this way, she wouldn’t be upset that I would want to watch a football game instead of partaking in some vacation fun.

Alright, that was Friday when we reached the island, and after a seafood supper, we signed up for our activities, and then hit the sack.

However, when we were signing up for the activities, there was one little problem.

We had planned on taking a horse-back ride our last night on the island along the beach.

Horseback riding is kind of a sport, right?

Anyways, there was a snag. Apparently, they have certain size horses for certain size people, and according to the staff member at the activities desk, I was considered a large person, and all of the large horses were booked.

That did little to help my self esteem, and Jody had more than a little laugh about it. We couldn’t go horse-back riding due to my bulk. What a bunch of crap.

Oh well, instead, we settled for a boat ride on that night, which would later get cancelled as well. Whatever.

Alright, the next day, which was Saturday, we took a cruise to the Great Barrier Reef and did some snorkeling.

It was a five-hour trip, and never having gone snorkeling before, I was a little nervous as I’m not much of a swimmer.

But, after putting on my sunscreen, grabbing a floatie (I know, what am I? 10 years old?), and jumping in the water, I really enjoyed it. It was just amazing.

However, we had another problem, as it turned out. I forgot to reapply my sunscreen.

By the time we got back to the island, I could already tell that the next couple of days weren’t going to be too much fun. I was as red as a tomato.

Barely able to move the next day, I managed to crawl out of bed to take a jet ski tour around our island, but it was back to the hotel room after that. My body hurt, bad.

That is when I dived into the sports channels in Australia, watching a ton of cricket that first day.

As much as I watched it, I couldn’t figure it out. It just looked like the most boring sport in the world, maybe even worse than soccer – at least to me.

Luckily, rugby was also on, and that is what I ended up watching for the majority of the rest of our trip when the TV was on.

While I don’t know much about rugby, it was pretty fun to watch, and it seems like the one sport they are passionate about down there that I could really get into.

While we did do several other things on the island, the only other real sports-related item I had planned on doing was going golfing, as they had a 9-hole course within the rain forest.

However, we had to pass on golf since I could barely move without pain, which sucked.

Alright, this brings us to Monday morning at 4 a.m., and NFL football.

I got up, grabbed a soda, turned on the TV, and was ready to go.

Despite the fact that they showed us probably the worst game of the week – the Falcons against the Saints – I was still happy to get to watch a little football.

Tuesday came, and we headed back to the airport, taking a flight to Sydney, which is where we spent our final four nights in Australia.

Sydney was fantastic! The history, the shops, the restaurants, and of course, the pubs. I actually found one place that carried Budweiser, which tasted like water compared to the other beers we tried there.

The only real sports-related thing we did in Sydney was to check out the Olympic Park, which is where the 2000 Summer Olympics took place.

I remembered how cool the Olympic stadium looked on TV, but to see it in person was even more amazing. It truly is a beautiful stadium.

While in Sydney, Jody tried to get me to do the Sydney Harbor Bridge climb. Yeah, there was no shot of that happening. The bridge was enormous, and very tall. In case you might not have known, I hate heights.

Besides, I got tired just walking up hill four blocks to our hotel every time we went back. I really am out of shape.

All in all, it was an amazing time, something that I will never forget. I recommend anyone that gets a chance to travel to Australia to take it.

But if you do head Down Under, stay away from the cricket on the TV, and just stick with the rugby – it is a much more entertaining sport to watch.

Oh yeah, and don’t forget to reapply that sunscreen.

Why wait two weeks?

Being gone for two weeks, I’ve kind of been out of the loop as far as the high school football playoffs go.

However, when I got back, one of the first things I did was to check into the results over the past couple of weeks to see which teams made it into the state championship games.

As I was doing it, I was surprised to see that there were going to be a full two weeks between the semifinals and the championship games, which I thought was pretty weird.

I know it’s been pretty much a long-standing tradition to have the championship games the weekend of Thanksgiving.

With that said, I wouldn’t take two weeks off just to accommodate that scenario.

I really believe that the Minnesota State High School League should have scheduled the state championship games this past weekend, instead of waiting two weeks.

And if it was important to the MSHSL that the championship games stayed over Thanksgiving weekend, they had a couple of different options they could have taken.

First, they could have just pushed back the season by a week – that way they wouldn’t have had to have a game over Labor Day weekend.

The second option was to spread out the season by a week.

So, instead of playing a game Wednesday over MEA, then bouncing back with the first playoff game Tuesday, followed by another game Saturday of that same week, they could have just started the playoffs the Friday of that week, pushing everything back a week.

That way, the teams would have had a few extra days off to rest prior to the playoffs, and we wouldn’t have this two-week break between the state semifinals and the championship game.

But what the heck do I know?