America has a quartet of national sports: baseball, basketball, ice hockey (or ‘hockey’) and American football (or, ahem, ‘football’). Baseball, as regular readers will know, is a great game to see in person. Sure, it is possible that a baseball might sneak up and whack you in the face, putting a bit of a dampener on the rest of the experience, but otherwise it’s a great game to see in person. American football, on the other hand, was not high on my priority list: partly because of the game itself, but also because tickets are obscenely expensive. But then Randi scored a free pair of tickets to a preseason game of the Chicago Bears vs. the Cleveland Browns, so why not try another slice of Americana?
The good things:
- The game itself is much more bearable than on TV, which is notoriously stuffed with adverts. Of course, the game is still frozen during these times, but it is a lot less jarring.
- We were spared cheerleaders, and instead treated to an enthusiastic drum line.
- The NFL have craftily imposed a consistent theme tune between all TV broadcasts and the live games themselves… it’s catchy!
- Watching a small army of people manoeuvre a giant flag around is inherently funny and/or makes me want to play that ‘parachute’ game from primary school PE lessons.
- I ate chili from a bowl constructed entirely from a giant pretzel. And then I ate the bowl too. Enough said.
- The game itself is still… not great. The stop-start-go-back-to-the-beginning feels like a giant and overly-obvious metaphor for Congress.
- I was genuinely dumbfounded to learn that different players play during the offence vs. defence sections of the game. And then some players have even more specialised roles, like ‘occasionally kick the ball’.
- The Chicago Bears themselves are clearly terrible, and contrived to score nul points against 25 from the Browns.
- Is it just me, or is it nigh impossible to actually see the ball? They should make it florescent, or huge and inflatable.
That said, I would definitely be up for a return visit, if the tickets were cheap and it didn’t involve sitting outside in the middle of a snowstorm. And I still have the NFL theme tune in my head, so that’s a win for America.
I can’t think of any appropriate transition from American football to glass blowing, but take a look at these:
Randi and I ‘made’ these gorgeous glasses at Ignite Glass Studios (on a Groupon!) during a one-hour glass blowing class. I say ‘made’ because our instructor, Joe, was very much the one doing the actual work. At most I picked the colours, nervously rotated the pipe and blew when he told me to. But it was incredibly cool to be in their workshop, feeling the heat of the furnaces and seeing how flexible glass is at those temperatures. Would recommend.
The wine glasses also came in handy during our Secret Hitler games this weekend. I wrote about this game last time we played, but excitingly this was the first time I was actually in a winning fascist team (a sentence which is getting a bit iffy to write these days, but never mind) and it felt great. Please also let the record state that despite being a bona fide liberal in both games, James was nevertheless assassinated in both games. Lying is fun.
Other than this, and a quick drink at Hillary’s birthday party on Labour Day itself, we (unusually) decided to spend the long weekend relaxing at home (and playing lots of Dominion) rather than trying to pack in a crazy trip. In the spirit of London, however, I did manage to find Randi one Indian restaurant in Chicago willing to cook her an off-menu fish pasanda. (The chef apparently had some misgivings, but it worked out.)
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Once upon a time, American football was a savory game with no image problems. Now it’s quite depressing.
But the problems with the brain damage were always there, no?
The fans or the players?
No one knew about it. Then there’s the whole rash of players involved in assaults, murders, other crimes. And the owners all turning the other cheek. Lovely business, football.