So we pick the action up at the tailgating party. After coming to the realisation that a tailgate party pretty much consists of people getting drunk in a car park, I sought an escape. I wanted to see how ‘American Football’ – or ‘Grid Iron’ – stacked up against rugby or Aussie Rules Football so I put down my red plastic beer cup and headed for the real game.
My entrance through the gates presented another awkward moment involving ID checks. Only this one went slightly differently to the one I described in the ‘Can I See Your ID? post. As I had a student ticket, I had to pass through the student entrance.
Ticket checker: This is the student entrance.
Me: I know
Ticket checker: Are you a student?
Ticket checker: Are you sure?
Me: Yes I am sure.
Ticket checker: Can I see your student ID?
Me: Yes. (I hand it over.)
Ticket checker: (Looks at it, hands it back sheepishly).
I was just kidding! In you go.
Me: No you weren’t.
I brushed it off and entered. It was over two hours since kick off but the game was still in the second quarter. But we hadn’t actually missed anything.
Think of every cliché relating to American Football that you can. That’s exactly what lay before me. Cheerleaders. Dancers. Bleachers. Match statistics. Slow-motion replays. Over-enthusiastic ground announcer. Marching band. Flag-waving-baton-twirlers. Gatorade buckets. Kiss Cam. Dance Cam. Sidelines full of helmeted-padded-lycra-clad players itching to take the field. And 6400 yd² of luminous green turf.
I was grateful for all these distractions because the game was a little hard to follow. It went like this. Stop. Start. Stop. Start. Kick. Throw. Stop. Referee’s announcement. Stop. Start. And so on. And on. And on.
One major difference in spectator behaviour was how the students responded when the visiting team had possession and were making an important play. Rather than simply ‘boo’ the opposition, everyone got out their key chains and jangled their keys. It must have terrified the opposition.
Half-time was all about the marching band. You can hear them here. And because it was homecoming weekend, they invited back alumni who had been part of the band to perform once more. But it wasn’t just former band members getting in on the action. On the sidelines was a group of middle-aged alumni cheerleaders – pom-poms in hand – and when the flag waving girls marched out they too were accompanied by alumni. These former students were truly living up to the alumni motto: Students Today. Huskies Forever.™
I wish I could tell you more about the the game, but I just wasn’t enthralled. Give me a leaping AFL forward, a soccer striker on the penalty spot, or a rugby winger on a chip-and-chase any day. At least you can tell what they look like off the field. In their playing uniforms the American Football players remind me of the little kids in ski school lessons – all suits and helmets and identified only by a shirt number.
Once all the starting and stopping, and stopping and started was done, just 4 ½ hours after kick off, we lost 13-10. It seems our key chains weren’t scary enough.
PS: Five fun facts about American College Football
- There are 52 players suited up to play on game day.
- There are 105 players in the actual team.
- They have 12 coaches.
- The head coach is highest paid public servant in the state.
- Every time possession changes (say from offense to defense) they sub on an entire new team. There is no such thing as an all-rounder.