aerial ping-pong

Aerial ping-pong is a jocular (and frequently derisive) name for Australian National Football (or Aussie Rules as it is popularly called).

The term derives from the fact that the play in this game is characterised by frequent exchanges of long and high kicks.

It is used largely by people from States in which Rugby and not Australian Rules is the major football code. This interstate rivalry is evident in the citations in the Australian National Dictionary:

1964 Footy Fan (Melbourne): Sydney folk are generally curious about this religion or mania which they term 'aerial ping pong' or 'Aussie Rules'.

1965 F. Hardy, Yarns of Billy Borker: That's not football, mate, it's aerial ping-pong.

1973 J. Dunn, How to Play Football: Sydneysiders like to call Australian Rules 'aerial ping-pong'.

1980 H. Lunn, Behind the Banana Curtain: I won't comment much on their football - called aerial pingpong in Queensland - because I don't understand it.

A team from Sydney was admitted to the national competition in 1982, and one from Brisbane was admitted in 1987. These teams are based in traditional Rugby areas, yet have drawn very large crowds, and have been very successful. It will be interesting to see if the term aerial ping-pong survives.

Reference: Australian National Dictionary Centre

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