You can’t deny the atmosphere of American sports, especially the NFL. If you have ever been to a sporting event in the US, you’ll know what I mean. It’s very different to sports in the UK or Europe in general. Here, sports are mainly attended by males, and it is always a competitive, sometimes hostile environment. In the US, sports are more about support, community and family. And this spirit also comes across at NFL games in the UK.
The fan zone in Regent Street is entertaining and gets everyone riled up for the games, or if you can’t attend the games, it makes you feel part of the party. The tailgate party in front of the stadium is not quite what tailgating is all about, but considering this is London and almost no one has a big pick-up truck, it’s as close as we’ll get. There’s music, food, drinks and of course merchandise. The best thing about NFL UK is that no one really supports a team from the bottom of their hearts, or hardly anyone does. There’s no local NFL pride, just the joy of the game. Half of the attendees also very likely don’t know the rules. But none of that matters, because it’s one hell of a show and it’s a treat for the whole family.
The tailgate party also has activities for kids and for adults with kids’ football training, cheerleading performances and other fun stuff.
Before the game gets underway there’s of course the obligatory performance of the national anthem(s). Both games I’ve been to were a hilarious mirror of British and American understanding of who should be singing the nation’s anthem. America chose Gene Simmons and Britain chose soprano Laura Wright – I’ll leave the judgement to you.
The entrance of both teams is as expected but spectacular nonetheless. Lots of smoke and cheerleading, displaying the strength of football players, I’m guessing. This doesn’t happen in soccer (yes I will be using the American term for this review as to avoid confusion). I have also learned during one summer in the states that cheerleaders do not want to be called cheerleaders but rather professional dancers… ehm, I think cheerleaders has less of a stripper touch to it, no?
The one thing I’m not a fan of during American football games is that the clock stops every time there’s a foul or something. No wonder these games take so freaking long. A game of 3-4 hours is the norm, however unless you are obsesses with American football, you will eventually lose interest. The flow of the game gets completely disturbed and you feel like all you do is look at the players standing around.
You can’t deny that it is a great American sport though, and the atmosphere is something to be experienced. If you get a chance to go, then take it.