I Finally Get the Point!

By Daniel Andruczyk

So those that follow me on twitter, facebook and the website all know that in the last week I have moved to the United States of America for work. It afford me a unique opportunity to see Rugby League in the United States and Canada and Jamaica. but most of all it provides me a perspective into the world of professional sports, one that I think I didn’t get in Australia or Europe. I was lucky that last weekend, two days in the country I was invited to my first College (American) Football game. I was a convert.

Wait!

When I say a convert, I don’t mean to the sport itself. Yes Gridiron has its good aspects, but as far as I see it it still fails miserably compared to the speed, agility and intensity that Rugby league offers. So what do I mean by my main title? The spectacle! The spectacle of the whole day from 7 am through to 7pm the whole city turned out to promote and celebrate the game and support their team. So I will now try and regail you of my experience and thoughts and hopefully you might see what I have seen.

S5001871

Cars and fans in the car parks with their BBQ’s and games before the game

Tailgate Party

The University of Illinois, is part of the Big 10 College Football teams. They play 6 home games through the season, though some of them are not against the teams in the top 10 but still count to the years record. Basically teams only play each other once in the conference (though its called the Top 10 there are 12 teams these days in the conference). But what the University of Illinois is most famous for (aside its 22 Nobel Prize winners) is the invention of the Tailgate Party.

What is this, well let me tell you, one of the most insane invention around. Imagine rocking up with your mates and thousands of other fanatics, opening up the back of your car, ute or trailer, getting a BBQ grill out and beer and just having a big’ol party till game time. So I was invited to my Bosses party, yup my boss and and everyone else there are nuts when it come to the game. He has one of those cruisers, like in the movie “Meet the Fokkers”. It has a plasma screen, full bar and a big 6 burner BBQ with Brot-Beer sizzling away. It was phenomenal. From 7am we were there drinking Margaritas, good beer (yes it does exist in the USA!) eating juicy sausages and discussing who will win the game. Everyone, and I mean everyone was wearing the team colours, Orange and Navy Blue.There were a few “enemy fans” from North Illinois University,  but on the whole it was a sea of orange.

S5001873 At my bosses Tailgate Party

Now to put into perspective what all this is. The (twin) city of Champaign-Urbana has a holds population of 100,000 people. The Stadium holds 75,000 and the game ended up having over 50,000 inside the stadium and another 15,000 in the carpark doing the tailgate and watching the game on TV! Yes you read that right. People turn up to a game and watch it in the car park! How insane is that.

The Entertainment

So I am not sure what the actual main event of the day is though, the Football game or the Entertainment! Now there are three forms of entertainments that happen through the whole day and game, the Cheer-Leaders, the Cheer-Dancers and the marching Band. Unlike many of the Australian Cheer-leaders, who well I am not even sure what they do or are there for, these have all scholarships at the University for being either athletes, aspiring professional dancers or musicians, and its not the kind of tacky stuff we get in the NRL, the music was all modern stuff. The ban played from Metallica through to Grease Lightning to a very very cool rendition of the Imperial March. The acrobatics of the leaders and the moves of the dancers were something else to behold.

And all that is just before the game. People were flocking to the stadium just to see the marching band and dancers! The Americans are a patriotic bunch, renditions of all the American folk songs and the different patterns like the outline of America and the Stars and Stripes, the intricate patterns they do and the music, its phenomenal. Like there is a point to it all, you actually do get entertained, not the poor excuse that we get in the NRL

S5001881 Some of the entertainment on the day

I Finally see the point of having Cheer leaders and dancers in the NFL and American sport. They actually do, do something and its amazingly entertaining. After seeing this I really don’t see the point of the cheer girls in the NRL!

The Game

As I said the game itself, though spectacular in the build up and the individual plays, still is no comparison to the raw power, speed, intensity and power of the Greatest Game. But that seem not to matter for the fans, they have their sport and are totally absorbed by it. They scream their heads off when play is on and during the break they have a normal conversation with you. Its quite bizarre actually. Its amazing seeing all the different camera angles they get on the game and just how many people the whole things absorbed, not just the players and coaching staff but the support and TV staff as well. You have nearly everyone there is not just a fan of the team and game but also the bans and cheer leaders/dancers.

In the end though the game was quite exciting as it went to the wire with the home side getting a final touchdown in the last minute that gave them a 6 point win 28-22. There was much more kicking or punting as they call it, involved in the game than I expected. Certainly their kicks come no where near as good as anything in the NRL. The accuracy and distance that the NRL gets in its kicks is much, much better. Still was interesting to see.

S5001896

The Fighting Iliini at the Memorial Stadium.

After the game it was back to the Tailgate party and the post game analysis from the thousands of experts. The party lasts for the rest of the day. Basically 7 am to 11 am its the Tailgate. Then 11 am to 2 pm its the game and then tailgate again after that! I spent another hour after the game and then headed into town to a bar and they were all full with orange too. Plus the game was on reply on TV!

Russel was Right!

When Russel Crowe bought South Sydney one of the controversial things he did was to get rid of the cheer-girls and “that” entertainment. I can see now why he did that. The way its done in the NRL there is no point in having the cheer-girls. They bring absolutely nothing to the game and over all game day experience. Sure, some say its eye candy, but lets have them do something with that eye candy. Oh, and girls, don;t you fret you are not left out either. The Cheer –leader squads have as many men as they do women dancing and performing. So when Saints brought them in years ago, it was actually the normal thing to be done over here, yet the backward archaic ways of thinking in Australia had all of us laughing at the guys and making unsavoury remarks about them.

Without knowing what he was thinking, but I think Russel had a decision to make. Either stick with the cheerleaders and expand them at great cost for probably very little benefit to the club as a whole or scrap the whole concept. Him going with the latter I am sure has meant the club overall is saving money and face by not having to put out what in essence is an inferior product every week. Now don’t get me wrong, I am not having a go at the girls and guys that are the cheer leaders in the NRL, they go out and put all their effort into it, but in the end its done and promoted in a amateur way. Either do something full on or get rid of.

In the end my first American Football experience was a phenomenal one. The whole game-day experience was just amazing. From the Tailgate to the game entertainment, the whole things is just fun, fun, fun. Its all about giving the fans the best experience money can buys. Sure Tickets are expensive for NFL but if this College game experience is something to go by then I think what you get in terms of the whole entertainment package its a total bargain.

I finally get the point!

Daniel Andruczyk’s email: daniel@rugbyleagueinternationalscores.com
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44 Responses to “I Finally Get the Point!”

  1. Ashley says:

    I love college football and NFL. Nevr been to a game by one day hope to.

    If there is one thing the Americans know how to do it’s run a sport. NRL and league in general has so far to go to catch up to NFL or even NHL where it’s basically impossible to even think about getting tickets to a game. E.G. Toronto. Even the premier leagu soccer who think they are gods gift to sport has a long way to go to catch up with America.

    League should take every lesson possible from Americans and ith our amazing product the sport could go far.

    • druzik says:

      Well I have seen the College game… NFL is hideously expensive and difficult to get tickets I am told… but I aim to get to a game soon.

      The Americans seriously do know how to sell and promote. Its a real eye opener and one that I hope I am learning from. Rugby League is really behind the eight ball on this and also from when I was living in Europe, their promotion is poor as well. Soccer is big only through numbers, and not its promotion… but I think soccer is such a beast that it does not need that kind of promotion.

      Rugby League, the sooner it learns to be like NFL in its promotion the quicker it will grow and out strip the AFL and Union around the world. Its exciting seeing how its done.

  2. Anthony says:

    Watch a lot of the College grid iron on tv and find it’s a lot more unpredictable then the NFL they just have to fix the system up (by that I mean schools should be able to move up to play against the other schools).
    Mate’s of mine Dan have said you can get decently priced seats at the NFL as long as it’s not against one of the big teams i.e Dallas, Green Bay

    • druzik says:

      Yeah so this is how it was explained to me.
      The football weekend is split into three. Friday nights is reserved for High School Football. Saturday is College Football and Sunday and Monday nights are NFL.

      The College games are split into geographical conferences. Like where we are its the midwest big 10 conference. So there are 12 teams that play each other once and then there are 4 or 5 other games that they can pick up from other conferences that also count to your standings. Teams in these conferences do get ranked across the country (dont know the system) and the top 25 are seeded. So like in the big 10 this year (UIUC, where I am, Indiana Uni, Iowa Uni, Michigan Uni, Michigan State Uni, Uni Minnesota, Northwestern Uni, Ohio Uni, Pen State, Perdue, Uni Wisconsin, Uni Nebraska) Ohio is ranked 2 in the country at the moment. We play them next weekend (bloody right in the Grand Finals) and its a BIIIG thing being made of it.

      As for the unpredictability, yes you are correct. Apparently the quarterbacks are much more running and are willing to chance their arm more. You do get more lateral play happening as well. The teams in general chance their hand more since the hits are not as big as in the NFL.

      But the things about Football here is the whole game day experience, from the Tailgate, the bands, cheerleaders, Dancers, game and then the after party …. its a whole day thing.

  3. deluded pom ? says:

    I can understand your enthusiasm for the experience dru but how much of it is novelty value to yourself? If I were to be partying for that many hours each game day then I wouldn’t waste my money buying a match ticket either. I’d be too pissed to see the game. How soon would it be before you get bored of sat in a car park drinking all day long with the only respite being a three hour break while they play football for an hour. Or are you still drinking while the game goes on? I’m not sure if the bands and the cheerladers have a new routine for every game though I very much doubt it. It’s surely all about culture. The Americans obviously like the sort of thing you’ve just experienced but it just wouldn’t go down well here in the UK were we sinply go to the game to see the game. As you explained tckets to the NFL matches are very expensive hence why college football gets the crowds and exposure it does. Very few cities in each state boast an NFL team so people will not pay the prices or do the travelling necessary and will opt to watch thir local college team which is one rung below the NFL.

    • druzik says:

      They are interesting points DP.

      I guess over time we will see how I feel about it. Lets say we now have started a sporting experiment 🙂 Right up my alley!

      Interesting not though, you are right you have a whole day of drinking and partying but the whole game experience is about 4 hours, and in college games they are dry ( being a Uni campus and most students are under age remember) but how they get around that at the Tailgate I don’t know.

      Also from what I understand the bands and leaders do have different routines every home game. Remember these are professionals and they compete in competitions nationwide and so they need to have a vast array of routines and also be able to get a routine down in a short amount of time.

      But next weekend is a game against Ohio State which is one of the BIG games of the year so that will be interesting to compare with.

      • deluded pom ? says:

        As I said, I personally think it’s a cultural thing. The Yanks are brought up on long winded sporting events wheres Brits and Aussies aren’t. I don’t mind it for big games e.g.the Grand Final or an international but not EVERY home game. It just wouldn’t draw me to the game any earlier. I could have a BBQ at home and make my way to the game afterwards in good time. I just wouldn’t want to sit in a car park for eight hours. I can understand your wide eyed wonder at the things going on around you but they just wouldn’t work in the UK or Australia. We are a different breed. Vive la difference.

      • druzik says:

        You may be right, it is a cultural thing.

        I can see what you mean about the tailgate not working, in Aus you have other matches through the day as well which could impede on the tailgate concept…. and beaches.

        But there is still the way the Americans advertise the sport… I watched some of their “footy shows” over the week and they are just phenomenal. They absolutely destroy anything on TV in Australia.

  4. juro says:

    Okay, they’ve shown you theirs. Now it is time for you to show them yours…

  5. C.T.SANDERS says:

    So you are now in america daniel?

  6. C.T.SANDERS says:

    That’s the difference between american football and rugby league.One sport is professional and the other amateur and a cinderalla sport at that that is still in the stoneage,a village game played by village idiots and generally run by village idiots who run the game to suit themselves.Every other sport goes ahead and rl continues to stagnate because there are no tours.Simple.

    • druzik says:

      Well Football is certainly run very professionally, there is no doubt there, and there is no doubt from anyone that International Rugby League is also run pretty shodillly as well.

      But if one looks at the most successful sports in the world, they don’t have tours, no tours to stagnate the sports.

  7. dragons4eva says:

    hey Druzik great post again.

    Interesting insight into how the Americans run their football promotion and games.

    Yeah i agree with DP…i’ve never been to England but England and Australia are very similar when it comes to any kind of football code. For local derbies or important matches in Rugby League yeah we like fireworks and marching bands etc. But when it comes to a normal round of footy we just want to watch the game. Americans are just different i suppose.
    Advertising wise yeah it could probably work but with the whole marching bands and parking lot probably not.

    But wow sounds like you’re having a ball in America.

    Keep the posts coming =]

    • druzik says:

      Thanks.

      yes its amazing. The “Footy shows” that are on here every night are amazing. None of the crap that the Matty John and NRL shows have. Even the Sunday Footy show is amateur in its production.

      I have watched a few of them and have come away after every 2 hours having actually learnt stuff. They have like mock up fields in the studios where past players actually run through plays and tactics (In suits lol) and show exactly why happened in games, the analysis is quite simply stunning. They may have a sheet they look at but you can tell its something they wrote, the off the cuff stuff is phenomenal. I would love to see something like that in oz… and every conference in the NFL and colleges has its own channel. So here we have the big10 channel, its 24/7 old football footage and current games, analysis, player profiles, team profiles, city profiles for the football buffs! Its scary the level of promotional professionalism that goes into it.

      But as I said to DP previously, I can see how it would not work in the UK and Oz with the tailgates and stuff… its not in our culture, but it is fascinating seeing it and experiencing it.

  8. C.T.SANDERS says:

    They don’t need tours because american football is an institution and the richest football code in the world and league is a cinderalla sport run by clowns and tours are needed to generate money because unlike american football where there is no overkill,both the nrl and superleague are bores.The football stinks because it is barge kick and yawn unlike unlimited tackles which opened the game up and took away the 3 most boring aspects of the game,the set of 6,the gang tackle and the repetitious kick or bomb on the last tackle.The seasons are also far too long and tours gave us variety unlike the modern game which is monotous and stale.

    • druzik says:

      Yes but at some point it wasn’t, it had to grow and become the institution it is. And it did it by not having tours.

      But look at soccer, it has spread purely on the back of tournaments like the World Cup and regional tournaments.

      The Unlimited Tackle rule actually produced some extremely boring footy… it was almost like Union… that’s the reason it changed. Rugby league being a professional sport from day dot was always about providing an exciting product, it evolves to that effect. Dont you think that if Unlimited Tackles produced a better spectacle they would have gone back to it?

      Since they haven’t I suspect that they know it would not be exciting. Besides I have seen some absolutely riveting and amazing games this year. Not sure where you are getting your boring idea from.

  9. C.T.SANDERS says:

    And by the way you got a boring job in america and why haven’t ya mate richard the good guy lewis given you a job in rugby league?

    • druzik says:

      Errrrr ….. my job certainly is not boring. Actually one of the best and most stimulating. I get to work and deal with some pretty amazing people and projects and get to travel the world … which allows me to do all the Rugby league work as well.

      As to why I don’t have a job in Rugby League, I never applied for one with the RFL…. I did for the RLEF and also Tas Baitieri knows me well enough and my capabilities. I have worked in tournaments with him in the past. I have expressed to them that I would love to work with the RLIF and the sport. The ball is in their court.

      Till then I will continue with my Plasma Physics as well as the Rugby League.

  10. C.T.SANDERS says:

    I don’tknow where you are coming from but i just wathed the most amazing rl game of all the 1965 challenge cup final between the top team wigan v the bottom team hunslet and talk about no stop action daniel.It’s a billion times better than the crap we watch today.Talk about a bore.It’s the modern game of barge kick and yawn daniel.Change the rules and go back to proper scrums which would create more interest in the game because poccession is 9/10ths of the law.And you are right daniel,American sports programmes and sport commentators are in a league of their own and if you want to hear boring commentary go to maori tv which has the most boring rl commentators in the world.Click on to fox memorial.

  11. C.T.SANDERS says:

    The only reason why they went from unlimited tackles to 4 tackles and a scrum in 1967 was to stop the poms from dominating the sport yet some people dispute this theory because they are of the firm belief that it was designed to stop st george from actually dominating after all they won 11 premierships in a row which was a world record in any code of football in the world at that time.However,the aussies weren’t very good at 4 tackles and a scrum because they couldn’t control the ball which lead to panic football.That why it went from 4 tckles and a scrum to 5 tackles and a scrum to 6 tackles and a scrum to finally to 6 tackles and a handover in 1983 and then straight after that we went fom 5 meters to 10 metres which encouraged barging and one out football and then we went to piccadilly circus which was unlimited interchange.Talk about a dog’s breakfast and what about the cheating in the scrums which is a disgrace.rl is a farse indeed a circus run by clowns many of whom have never ever played the game.No wonder we are the laughing stock.

    • druzik says:

      You are kidding right? Who were the Poms dominating? 1957 WC Australia won it, 1960 GB and 1968 Australia, in the ashes 1959, 62 GB won, 1963, 66,67 Australia won it, so how the hell is that Great Britain dominating?

  12. C.T.SANDERS says:

    Daniel who is going to win the nfl in america considering that you are an expert on everything because you are never ever wrong.In fact you are perfect.I hope brian smith gets the monkey off his back by wining his first ever grand final this weekend and i hope wigan win the premiership final at old trafford because the minor premiersip means fa just like kissing your sister and we all miss you here in australasia and i also have been told down the pub that all the sheilas miss you as well.

  13. C.T.SANDERS says:

    FROM 1910 to 1978 the poms were well ahead of australia in all tests in reguards to the ashes.Go and read your history books daniel and it changed only because the conveyor belt from rugby union dried up and with the rule changes.Between 1922 to 1950 australia never won a test series against the poms and of course the poms won the very first world cup in 1954 in france with scotsman dave valentine captaining gb.ok.And find out who will win the nfl?I want a punt at the tab and start watching the game daniel because you might learn something.

    • druzik says:

      Go back and have a look at the history books.

    • druzik says:

      What are you on about…. Yeah at the start Great Britain was dominant but so what, Australia eventually caught up, and if the Union conveyor belt dried up in England it also dried up in Australia. But we all know that Union players were switching to League consistently up to the 90’s.

      The Stats show that from 1963-1979 Australia had won 7/8 ashes series, hardly Great Britain dominating the Ashes From 1954-1977 Australia had won 5/8 world cups… hardly your claim to Great Britain dominating. You are clutching at straws there.

      The rules changed for various reasons… I don’t even think it was due to the Dragons dominance as everyone seem to think (mere coincidence) and it certainly wasn’t anything to do about Great Britain.

      Rugby League needed to change and chase the $, it had to evolve and adapt as it always has, simple as that.

  14. Shaun says:

    Man CT Sanders is a clown.
    Druzik gives great reports and info of sport around the globe.
    He has never said he is an expert, he’s not perfect, but man is he informative. He gives his opinion and shares his experience.
    Stop living in the past CT Sanders, rugby league is becoming more professional, we have more nations playing internationally and more domestic comps. It is taking time, but people are trying. Unfortunately they dont always give the jobs to the best people for the job, but thats life. Stop complaining and either enjoy rugby league or find another sport to follow.
    Its people like you who prevent rugby league from moving forward.
    Keep up the good work Druzik and all the best in America. Would be great to hear more about league in the US and not just what Niu and Spinner want us to hear- no disrespect to them, they are trying to promote league in the states.
    Cheers,
    Shaun.

    • druzik says:

      Thanks Shaun.

      Blogs are all about opinions, hopefully mine a informed and informative though… I can only go on what I can find read and get told.

      Chris can have his say, weather it’s right or wrong… as long as he is not insulting its all good.

      As for the USA, I certainly will be doing a lot here. I will be going to the Atlantic cup and will go to the Canadians and Jamaicans to see their set ups as well.

  15. C.T.SANDERS says:

    Shaun use your real name before you criticise people because i have never ever criticised people that write blogs on this site only the officials that run the sport.Tell me why rugby league is struggling as a sport.It’s not my fault that clowns run rugby league and i don’t live in the past and if you read things properly i am about the only person who wants rugby league to become a global game unlike others who can’t see further than their own clubs.I don’t ram my club down your throat and i have poured thousands and thousands into it over the years as well as pouring thousands and thousands into other sports.I have never insulted anyone including ya mate daniel and if it wasn’t for spinner and david in america rugby league would be a waste of time and america is the only hope because our administrators haven’t got a glue.But you are right i am a fwit and if our game was perfect then i could sit back and try and enjoy the footie and there would be no need to write and complain.But that’s the beauty about rugby league because it’s the most talk about game on earth because it always washes its’ dirty linen in public and it’s the greatest game of all to survive the idiots that run it.ok shaun.

  16. C.T.SANDERS says:

    And by the way shaun i think your mate daniel is an expert because his general knowledge about world rugby league is unbelievable and he is a good writer and so are you because i am not a good writer unlike others on this site and superpaulia is one that springs to mind.

    • druzik says:

      I may have a good general knowledge, but that does not make me an expert Chris, and thus I don’t declare myself as one. I am always learning something new everyday about the sport even getting ideas and perceptions changed.

      The only expertise I have is in Plasma Physics 😉 I have a few pieces of paper proving that.

  17. C.T.SANDERS says:

    I don’t doubt your accademic qualifications at all, but why are you wastsing your life with rugby league with the fwits that run our game, because if i had my life all over again i wouldn’t touch rugby league with a barge pole

    • druzik says:

      I wouldnt say I am wasting anything. Its given me good experiences on dealing with people and organisation and allowed me to do something I have a passion for. In some ways I regret I dodnt get started earlier, maybe by now I would be in the eschelons of RL and having a more direct influence.

      As it is my physics still is my main love and takes up 90% of my time.

  18. C.T.SANDERS says:

    And by the way daniel i am an expert on rugby league and i don’t suck arse to the administration and i challenge them at every opportunity if they can’t do the job right and the auckland rugby league board of control are corrupt because they still employ selwynn pearson a man who has criminal convictions.

    • druzik says:

      Well fight the good the fight then for agaisnt the corruption.

      As I said I will not call myself an expert as i am learning all the time and I certainly don’t know everything about everything.

  19. C.T.SANDERS says:

    My gang of people will fight the corruption to the bitter end because it’s holding the game back.The nzrl aren’t interested in going back into the past to sort the corruption out but it doesn’t mean that us good salt of the earth rl people aren’t.Many of the crooks of rugby league are using the auckland rugby league[inc] as a politicial brick wall to hide behind.It’s a safehaven for crooks.

    • druzik says:

      But in all reality, what could the NZRL achieve by going back in the past and getting the corruption… its more important I think to get it now. Get rid of the corruption right here an now… sort that out and then look at righting the past wrongs? No.

      Look I don’t have a good a grasp of the internal politics in NZ so I will have to take your word for it.

  20. C.T.SANDERS says:

    Because the people runing the auckland rugby league board of control now were part and parcel of all the corruption that went down.The ghosts have come back to haunt and if they don’t go back and look into the corruption and sort it out for once and for all the game will never ever go ahead.Pearson who’s employed by the arl as special projects manager did enough damage runing the game when he was boss of nzrl from 2001 to 2006 and he has criminal convictions and shouldn’t be in the game at all.If i had those convictions i wouldn’t be employed in my place of work let alone rl and he and his cronies did plenty of damage not only here but in other countries like russia where they all jumped on the bandwaggon and they underminded everything hoping to make money out of it all.For argument sake if the arl didn’t have millions and millions and millions of dollars in the bank these people wouldn’t be around and be gone for dust.That’s the power of money and they are not there for the right reasons.Time for cammy cams and sideshow sel to go and if the don’t go a political coup will take place in the not-too-distant future orchestrated by you know who daniel .

  21. C.T.SANDERS says:

    He got dic with name suppression in 2001 before he was made executive chairman of the nzrl and this was confirmed by the former ceo of the nzrl but he didn’t think that pearson is a drunk but he is because many people have seen him under the influence especially in the bars around ellerslie,epsom,new market,remuera and at some race courses.I saw him druck at one pub in new market and he wanted to knock me out cold and i reported this to the ceo of the nzrl and i also saw him drunk at the ellerslie eagles rl club here in june and we got in an argument but pearson is half yugoslav like me and he changed his original delmatian name by depole.His grand father and my grandfather knew each other and pearson is fluent in serbo-croatian and got plenty what the cat licks its’ arse with and that’s tongue.He could beat mahamad ali in a debating contest.

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