Travelogue

Super Bowl Sunday

I don’t mean to write everyday, but that’s the way things are going at the mo. I suppose there’ll be quiet points on my trip, but today wasn’t one of them. In fact, today was one of the greatest days on the American calendar: Super Bowl Sunday. The whole day led up to the 5:30PM kick-off (11:30PM GMT) — seriously: the pre-game TV build-up was about four hours long.

I’d never seen an American football match before, so this was all new to me. I spent most of the time bemused. American sports tend to be obsessed with statistics, incomprehensible rules (yes, I know I come from the country that invented cricket and rugby) and out-and-out madness.

But first let me tell you how sport works in America: black blokes play the game and get paid extremely well for it while white blokes sit on a sofa eating, drinking, smoking, and above all else, gambling on whatever game happens to be on the box. The bets start out simply, such as ‘I bet ten bucks the Patriots are going to win the game’, and progress at an exponential rate up to ‘A one-dollar fade says the Eagles will attempt an on-side kick in the next five minutes’. I have no idea what this means. They also make bets about who’s going to win a bet, and also bet on aggregate bets. It was incredible. Needless to say I didn’t win any money.

Anyway, the game really is secondary to drinking, smoking, eating, sitting, and gambling. American football is made up of fifteen-minute quarters, and yet it didn’t finish until half-past nine. Yup, a one hour game actually lasted four hours. The half-time show was awful: Paul McCartney did a few ditties before shuffling off. The backlash from last year’s breast debacle made sure no-one even said ‘hell’ (replaced by ‘heck’). It was all very family. At one point, Paul McCartney shouted ‘Thank you, Super Bowl’, which sent everyone in to fits of laughter. I’m not sure why, but I made sure I didn’t say it.

But to the game: it was actually quite enjoyable. Brian had to give me a running commentary so I could understand, but I quite enjoyed it. American football is a heavily tactical game, so I think the more you know about it the better it gets. The best part is that each side has a set of attacking players, and a set of defensive players. So if the team wants to attack they’ll take off all eleven defensive players (the whole team) and replace them with eleven attacking players. Even if it’s only for two minutes. The moment they need to defend the coach pulls off the attackers and throws the defenders back on. They also have kickers, who only come on the pitch to take kicks (hence the name, durr), and so probably play all of five minutes a match.

If you add all this up it makes a very a very interesting look into the American psyche. And for those of you that care, New England Patriots beat Philadelphia Eagles 24—21.

After the match we watched the first episode of a new series called American Dad. It’s written and animated by the same folks from Family Guy and it was hilarious. Whenever it makes its way across to the UK it’s well worth a look.

Update

To put my mum’s mind at rest, the bets I made only totalled five dollars so I haven’t wasted my holiday money!