I am not a big sports fan. Every sporting event I have attended has been unpleasant for some reason. At school it was obligatory to support a football team. I didn't know which team to support so I chose one that was pretty close to where I was born, or so I thought at the time and bought a royal blue and white Chelsea scarf. I wore it to school where it was promptly stolen from my desk. My friend, "Mouse" declared I couldn't be a Chelsea fan if I had never seen them play. On the coldest day of the latter half of the twentieth century (at least that's what it felt like like) I was standing in the Shed at Stamford Bridge watching Chelsea play Wolves. Apart from the cold, the only thing I can remember about the game is the brilliance of the colors - the blue and orange of the teams contracted against the green of the field. I survived the sub-zero temperatures just about, but I never felt the need to go to another game. The Chelsea loyalty faded away, as had my scarf.
The next football game I attended was not a choice. I was attending an interesting music education conference in the NW when my boss and his deputy decided the entire Norfolk team - all three of us - were going into Manchester to support Norwich as they beat Manchester City. I had no choice because they frog-marched me out of the conference centre and into the car. I was rendered against my will. Again I have no memory of the game, but I do remember that I was the only one of the party who was stopped and searched at the turnstile, while my boss and his right hand man stood and laughed.
The next big game I attended was at Yankee Stadium in New York to watch what I assumed was supposed to be a night of baseball. I'm sure it would have been more interesting had I understood what was going on, but I was still fuming from the indignity of being searched (again) and of having some of the young French people we were accompanying on the trip prevented from getting through security because they had ... cameras! Dangerous things, cameras. Paranoia is rarely attractive, specially in others. As to the game itself it is not like rounders, which is actually a lot more fun. It seemed to be random succession of long tedious and ridiculously overblown rants by someone with a microphone, huge gurning faces on a massive display screen, appallingly unhealthy and very aromatic food with the majority of the action on the field involving men in baseball outfits bimbling about walking on and off the field, with only the very occasional throw, catch or attempt to hit the ball with a baseball bat to try and justify the crucifying entry fee. It was even more tedious than cricket.
It was, therefore, with some trepidation that I approached yesterday's Super Bowl. The local team, the Denver Broncos, were playing the Carolina Panthers ( I think I've got that right). The Panthers were the favorites to win, but the Broncos were the favorites in the house and in the neighborhood. We were to be part of the several millions of people to to out spectating from the comforts of our own (warm) homes. Outside the house, the snow that fell before Christmas was still piled high. My daughter-in-law had prepared lots of delicious food and informed me that more food was consumed on Super Bowl Sunday than on any other day in the United States, except for Thanksgiving. My son provided explanations of the various rituals and moves. I asked why it was called, "football" when the game clearly resembled more a game of British Bulldog among grown men. There was indeed ritual, there was also pagentry. There was even Coldplay, Beyoncé and Bruno Mars (which moved me on to safer territory). I rather like this photograph I saw on Facebook even if it is a little unfair ...
I surprised myself by watching the game all the way through, although it may be a once in a lifetime event. Despite the rule that clearly states that any team I pretend to prefer has to lose, the Denver Broncos won. Apparently there were fireworks going off all over Denver last night that were the rival of any Fourth of July celebration. Sitting in the airport today it seems that every other person is wearing Denver Broncos attire. This kind, if slightly bemused man allowed me to take a photograph of him wearing his hat as we were boarding the plane. Apparently season tickets can cost fans about $5,000 a year ...
I am going to try and sleep on this flight because, even though it leaves at 4:15pm it will arrive in Reykjavik at about 5.45 am.
See you in Iceland.