Of Germany and the Super Bowl

In about 4 hours, Super Bowl LI will be underway. The kickoff with exploding camera flashes, the ads, the aggravating face of Tom Brady.

All are mainstays of the big game.

But this will be the first Super Bowl in years that I (probably) won’t watch. You see here, kickoff is at 12:30 am Monday morning. And I’ve been fighting a cold. So I will curl up in my bed a good two hours before game time and check the score in the morning.

But I HAVE been able to watch football here, so I thought I would share some of the interesting notes of that experience.

1. Football as a cultural experience

The first time we had football on here when people were over, I heard the same thing over and over:

“Football is so BORING!”

Quick note here: FOOTball is american football. FUSSball is soccer.

Sure the plays are exciting, but then the players just stand around for a minute! I found this to be a really interesting comment because of Americans’ number one complaint toward soccer: It’s so BORING!

It’s all about perspective. In soccer, it’s the idea that the clock (and play) never stops. At literally any second, a goal could be scored, which makes you watch a lot of plays with bated breath.

In FOOTball, the intensity and the scoring are much higher. This makes it fun to watch as fans. Even better is that there are different ways to score, which makes the entire drive down the field suspenseful, especially when a team needs to get in the endzone.

2. Seasons

I help coach Cade’s soccer team, and the other coach and I were talking one day.

“I love the NBA, but I can only watch it for some of the year.”

“Yes, but when that season comes around, it’s really great!”

“But doesn’t that annoy you? Only getting to watch your favorite game for a few months?!?”

He couldn’t understand why we have so many seasons for different sports. In Germany, the Bundesliga (national soccer league) plays from about August to May, like baseball in America. There is a brief pause in the winter, but then during the summer months, there are major National Team events. Europe Cup comes every four years, on the even off years in between, the World Cup makes sure at least every other summer there is big time soccer. And in the other off seasons there are qualifiers, etc. Soccer never stops.

I had never even considered that we don’t need an offseason. Maybe the athletes do, but can you imagine year-round football?!?

But that brings me to…

3. Kids’ Soccer

Kids play soccer year round in Germany. America gets a bad rap when it comes to soccer. Our teams, and our players, are not seen as being very good. Part of that is the competition!

In America, kids play soccer for 8 weeks, in a closed league, and then they move on to basketball, or baseball, or football, or whatever. Here, we played a fall outdoor league, then went into an indoor league, and then in spring the same team will move back outside.

And since it’s club soccer (think less exclusive than “club” sports in America), the kids play together and stay together. Which means they play a LOT of soccer, in a setting that lets them grow together.

I’ll be honest. This is pretty cool.

4. Back to the FOOTball

There is a following here, albeit small. There is a channel that plays one game per timeslot per week. And OH. MY. GOODNESS. It feels bizarre to watch.

The broadcast is (naturally) from a studio. They are at the mercy of what NBC or FOX or CBS airs. Frozen image? Let’s find something to talk about. Facebook updates from fans? Sure, why not?

The studio team gets camera time during NFL timeouts, since German commercials on television just kind of work differently than in the states. So it feels like a morning talk show that is covering a football game.

It feels very strange.

Don’t get me started on an all-German broadcast with English football terms peppered all over.

5. There ARE fans.

Had I not been sick, I would have had a friend over to watch the game. at 12:30 am. There are people who really like football here, you just need to find them.

My friend is a Patriots fan (gag) and is excited (for some reason) to see them not win a fifth ring. And amongst those of us who like football, there is a cool kinship that goes along with it as we talk about the results of the games each week.

The important message here is that we are not alone (but almost).

This is just a fun post, I know. But in case it wasn’t clear enough:

GO FALCONS!

Machs gut!

Nick

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