After nearly three years of living abroad, one thing that never gets easier – and one of the aspects of home that I miss the most – is watching sports. Because of the time difference, American sports games are pretty much always on either in the middle of the night or during our work day. At home I’d watch the Red Sox nearly every night, but it’s virtually impossible to follow baseball closely – particularly live – when games are being played at either 1am or 7am.
Since NFL games are only played once a week, and the regular season only consists of 16 games, it’s less difficult to follow football from afar than baseball, but it’s certainly not easy. From September through January, I’d record each Patriots game that aired (either at 1am or 4am) on Monday morning, then avoid most of the Internet (Facebook, Twitter, newspapers) for the entire day until I could get home and watch the game Monday night. It’s kind of a stressful existence, to be honest! Of course, I was fortunate that ASN aired almost every Patriots game this season; the hubs, on the other hand, only got to watch his hapless Cleveland Browns play twice.
On the bright side, because there are a lot more Americans here than in Sydney it was a lot easier to find Super Bowl-watching parties. In Australia, you wouldn’t have even known the the Super Bowl was going on. As I wrote two years ago, their bizarre pre-game studio coverage featured two Aussie guys who’d clearly never watched football, and two American dudes (one a former basketball player, one a soccer guy) who were deemed competent commentators by virtue of their nationality alone. It was the worst. In Singapore they thankfully just show a straight feed from NBC, and a lot of the bars even have the NFL Network on satellite.
Here, the American Club and all the American-owned restaurants (plus American chains like Chili’s and Applebees) had big parties. The game kicked off at 7:30am local time, so most of them served special breakfasts with American favorites like pancakes and bacon, which is really fun.
Although I do think Super Bowl Sunday is a de facto American holiday – we eat special foods, everyone gathers to watch in groups, even non-football fans watch to see the commercials and the halftime show – I probably wouldn’t have taken time off from work to watch if my team hadn’t been playing in it.
But alas, the star-crossed Patriots made it to the big game (I’m saying alas retroactively), so I arose at 6am to get a prime seat at Smokey’s BBQ on the East Coast. I think there were more Patriots and Giants fans than anything else – which is to be expected – but there were also fans of lots of other teams wearing shirts or jerseys to show their support. I mean, if there’s anywhere in Singapore where someone will appreciate your Bengals or Buccaneers jersey, it’s certainly at a Super Bowl-viewing party.
As a sports fan, I fully recognize how lucky I am to have seen all four of Boston’s professional sports teams win championships within the last 10 years. The Patriots have captured three Super Bowl titles since 2001 and are one of the winningest NFL teams of the last two decades. Last week they played in their sixth Super Bowl of my lifetime (compare that to the hubs’s Browns, who have never played in a Super Bowl, ever). But man, did that game suck.
I’m still kind of smarting from the outcome so don’t particularly feel like re-hashing the game – which the Patriots very easily could have won but for a few truly boneheaded mistakes – but I will say I LOVED every second of watching the game surrounded by other Pats fans. It was great to hear the crowd roar for every big play, to high-five with my friends when the Pats got a defensive stop or scored a touchdown, to tweet along with my fellow Americans the world over as Madonna rocked the halftime show (LOVE that she opened with “Vogue” and closed with “Like a Prayer”).
The game ended around 11am and I was kind of shell-shocked (not to mention exhausted from having woken up at 6am and screamed my lungs out), so in one sense it really sucked having to go into work afterwards. On the other hand, going in and doing work was a nice way to take my mind off the morning’s events; had I been watching at home on a Sunday night I would have had a hard time getting to bed at all, and Monday morning still would have sucked. Especially since I would have been hungover.