NFL is a huge deal in America – it is primarily competitive sports and entertainment rolled into one.
You root for your team, watch them play against the best and aim for the Super Bowl. You throw parties, hang out with friends, eat and drink all day from the pre-game, all through the game, into the next game and then the post-game analysis. It is quite the spectacle.
My first Super Bowl party was at a friend’s house back in 2013. The crowd consisted of true-blue born and raised middle-America Americans. I was conscious about being the only Asian foreigner at the party who knew little about American football.
The host insisted on recycling cups so everyone had a ‘character’ cup to use all day. Naturally, I chose a bright pink Hello Kitty one. The food spread had standard football party fare – buffalo chicken wings, meatballs, vegetable tray with dip, brownies, pizza. It was potluck so I made sushi rolls – a real hit with the crowd.
Super Bowl XLVII saw American Football Conference champion Baltimore Ravens beat the National Football Conference champion San Francisco 49ers 34-31. I was still learning the game and people were happy to explain it to me.
During that game, my main takeaway as to why football is so much more popular than ‘soccer’ is because there is no such thing as a draw. There is a winner and a loser. So you feel like the time you’ve invested in the game is worth it. I remember how pissed I used to get when my EPL team going against another top team resulted in a 0-0 tie. Nope, never get that with American football.
Also, there are also lots of breaks during the game so you never miss a thing. You have time to grab more food, top up your beer and use the bathroom. There is always action in the game – a good throw by the quarterback, a good pick by the defense, a good block by the offensive linemen, a terrible call by the referee and a ridiculous costume worn by fans that the network camera guy zoomed into. So much more entertaining than a ‘soccer’ ball being kicked around for minutes on end with no goal in sight.
I think the clincher for me why I’ve grown to enjoy American football has to be the strategic plays employed by the offense to advance closer to the red zone. There is a reason why the quarterback is always the star of the show – because it takes real talent to make the right play call, dodge the defense and accurately throw a ball for 50 yards all in one go.
Five seasons on, I daresay American football is more enjoyable than ‘soccer’. But when the FIFA World Cup rolls around, the old ‘soccer’-loving me comes out to play rooting for England, USA and whatever underdog East Asian teams that qualify.