It’s almost time to wrap up my experience as a Exchange Visitor Intern and to say goodbye to the United States. Time flies! I’ve been trying my best to check everything I wanted to see and do off my list, and realized that there was still one thing I needed to do before leaving: go to an American Football game, the most popular sport in the USA.
When you live in a different country, you must be open to learn about its culture and traditions. And one way to do so is discovering new sports, cheering for new teams (usually the ones from the city you are living at) and understanding the impact they have in the community around you. I had already been to baseball, hockey and basketball games, but my American Football experience was still pending to happen. So, what better way to do that than inviting all the other Interns that work with you (who are also excited and willing to experience culture exchange) and locals who love the sport (and who could, of course, explain the game to us)? It was the perfect combination!
I am from Brazil, and our national sport is futebol (soccer). If you visit my country, it will be very easy to see the passion Brazilians have for the sport and for their teams. Here, in the USA, I was also able to see a very great passion reflected everywhere. There are so many television channels dedicated to sports, newspapers, sporting goods stores, stadiums throughout major cities, activities before the games, and much more. Americans are highly encouraged to devote their time to sports, and American schools and colleges offer a variety of athletic scholarships. So it is very common for them to know the rules and to be involved with sports in general.
It was game day! I made sure to wear the team’s colors and couldn’t help but feel super excited to finally be at an American Football game. I am not fanatic for any sport, but I truly enjoy being in the stadium cheering for a specific team. The energy is amazing and I always learn so many new words and expressions in each game, as well as some of the rules. We got there before the game started so we could experience the famous Tailgate party: a social event that happens prior to the game, around the stadium on the open tailgate of vehicles or in various tents, food trucks, all filled with beverages, food, different activities, prizes, free gifts, etc. So much fun!! And since it was a college game, there were many former and current students as well as families, children, exchange visitor participants (us J) and many more.
When entering the stadium we could already hear the bands playing, people singing and cheerleaders dancing all around. I noticed that the fans are completely different, especially if we compare with the traditional football fans in Brazil. The rivalry was simply sportive, there was no violence in the game, either on or off the field. Plus, the concept of “rival” is quite different here. Rivals are other cities/states, but not the teams of the same city. Also, there was no division of fans in the bleachers (because the price varies according to the place, which is marked and everyone respects).
During the game, I tried to relate football situations and notions to what I’m used to back in my country, but that did not work at all. Sometimes it was hard to follow what was happening or where the ball was at, but the big screen was extremely helpful! It was very easy to keep up with the score and it was super fun with all the music and cameras around. I noticed that the sport is treated as entertainment, as a form of fun! The other exchange visitor participants were also enjoying their time and were happy to be experiencing something so American that we usually see in movies back home. We quickly learned some expressions and kept using them throughout the game (Hook’em Horns!).
Although it was one of the longest games of my life, entitled to many sunburns, the game was a lot of
fun and exceeded my expectations. So I can conclude: American Football game experience completed successfully!
Intern at Alliance Abroad