Posts Tagged ‘Superbowl

06
Feb
12

How I learned to stop whinging and love the superbowl

No-one in England cares about the Superbowl Final, right? The most popular British sports are so inexorably linked to our history and woven so tightly into our national psyche that there is simply no room for a sport where the participants wear body armour, paint their faces and thump each other for making a decisive tackle or holding a pass, right?

So, why exactly did 1 in 12 of us tune into BBC1 last night to watch it? Many of those people will of course be genuine fans who have followed American Football for long enough to have a firm grasp of the rules. The rest, like myself, have absolutely no grasp of the rules, but for some bizarre voyeuristic reason, tuned in anyway.

As with most things, it’s easy to mock what you don’t understand, so I sat for an hour with a pad and pen making notes on every technical term that was alien to me. Phrases such as ‘illegal huddle’ filled me with mirth, as I imagined a bunch of naughty school kids gathered round, secretly plotting their next prank. And how I guffawed when, after trying for the best part of the hour to decipher the commentator’s report that the Giants’ ‘tight end’ Travis Beckum had ‘done torn his ACL’, I realised she meant he’d torn his anterior cruciate ligament.

New York Giants' Travis Beckum: "he done torn his ACL".

After a while, I gave up trying to understand the rules and just watched the first half in a semi-hypnotic state. Then, as Madonna came riding out on a chariot accompanied by M.I.A, Cee Lo Green and an army of staggeringly muscular Roman centurions, I couldn’t help but be impressed. The knowledge that my prior definition of ‘half-time entertainment’ had been a lukewarm pasty and my Facebook news feed made me feel like a pathetic, sneering Englishman.

The comments on Twitter reflected the perceived level of interest among the British public: a mixture of sincerity and cruelty. BBC Presenter Mark Chapman conveyed some of the messages to his American pundits, who responded with good grace to the more inane ones (‘why do they have little towels?’, etc). I felt huge sympathy for them. How would we like it, I thought, if we had our own national sport ripped to pieces on national television by cynical American tweeters:

“But why do you sing songs insulting players’ wives? That’s just mean!”

“Shut it. You wouldn’t understand.”

For those few hours, I resigned myself to the lure of the Superbowl Final. I couldn’t care less who won or lost, but found myself hopelessly fascinated by the bravado, razzamatazz and sheer Amurkin-ness of it all.

USA, USA, USA!

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