Why a game in which a ball is mostly carried and thrown is called football, obviously defies any European’s logic. Football over there is definitely always played by your feet respectively legs only, and any involvement of your hands, even involuntarily, earns you a penalty – unless you are the goalie, of course. Also, football in Europe is definitely not a contact sport. A tackle ending up in a heap containing half of the opponent’s team would definitely get anybody involved booted to the side lines. And the coach would be fired.
No worries, I totally understand the difference between American football and what you call soccer over here. I never went to any big soccer games in Germany (I only watched some local teams), but I played it myself fairly well as a kid, and I certainly knew the rules well enough to be asked to become one of the sports reporters at my first job as a freelance journalist. I didn’t know the rules of American football half as well, but there were a couple of years when I actually went to see the Stuttgart Scorpions pull off some fairly good games in their stadium. I always went alone. The bleachers of the home team were usually only filled by half, the guests’ bleachers were even a sorer sight. But the music was good, the family picnic atmosphere friendly, and after the game you usually got a chance to mingle with the players. I loved the peacefulness. There were never any police or security to guard such a game though the team were playing first German league at the time – unthinkable when it came to soccer games on a national level.
Back then, I knew every German soccer national team’s player’s name and some of the Stuttgart Scorpions team’s too. Ever since I moved over here, that has changed a lot. I know more about what’s going on in the NFL than in the German Bundesliga. I know that soccer is slowly growing over here. But that’s pretty much it. Long story short – I have never been such a sports fan that I wore team colors anywhere. Not in Germany. Not over here.
But, of course, you cannot entirely escape the frenzy of a big Game Day, even if you are not that much into it. For one – you better know when there is a game on at home, as you might end up in traffic jams in the area or run into slightly over-excited drivers after the game. And a second reason – if you want to have some good German sausages on such a day you better preorder at the German deli around the corner as they are a big deal at tailgating parties. (And anybody who has ever had a German sausage or bratwurst will know what I’m talking about.)
What I definitely don’t want to escape from is Super Bowl Sunday, though. Even when the Seattle Seahawks haven’t made it into the game. It doesn’t matter – there it is again, this wonderful atmosphere of a happy family picnic. Okay, some will be happier than others. I know some fans whose team has made it to the finals again. I keep thinking of the kid that always got to sit on the one and only swing in the playground and hogged it. Which makes me route for the underdog who has to brave the situation.
We have shared the fun of Super Bowl parties at some friends’ home. We have watched the game at a local pub. We have watched it at home, snack bowls in our laps and cheering the screen. We have even gone to a Seahawks parade when they brought home a Super Bowl win. I had to stand tip-toes to see anything over the smartphones held up high in front of me, and boy, I was so cold after the event that it took me the rest of the day and some supersized bowls of hot soup to get warm again. (Does anybody know why Super Bowl Sunday has to happen during the coldest of winter season, by the way? I expect no answer – this is simply rhetoric.)
This upcoming Sunday is another Super Bowl day with another underdog playing the obvious favorite. You know whom I’m routing for. In any case: May the better team win!