Tuesday, November 20, 2012


 Photograph by Angie Tan-Burns Copyright. All Rights Reserved
After decades observing cultural activities around the globe, it seems only fitting that we turn our gaze on an equally foreign social phenomena and something close to my ancestral origins: American College Football. A true example of this doesn’t get any better than a game between two of the BIG 10 teams, the Pennsylvania State Nittany Lions vs. the Indiana State Hoosiers.

By tradition, it all begins with the ‘Tailgating’ party before the game, which allows fans an open-air venue to eat, drink and party from the comfort of their well-stocked vehicles. The Penn State Blue Marching Band leads the crowd with anthems and songs to build excitement while pageantry and performances by the flag bearers, baton twirlers’ and cheerleaders remind spectators that, “It is okay to be a proud American”. Enter the Penn State mascot the Nittany Lion who has most likely just consumed several cans of Red-Bull energy drink prior to bouncing around the field to the loud cheers of the crowd.
When the whistle finally blows to start the game on this crisp but freezing sunny day, 22 testosterone filled young men take the field to do battle. Pushing back and forth, marching up and down the field, the two teams rush, pass and kick the football in search of the goal line. Bodies and bones crash and crunch into each other leaving several casualties to be carried off on stretchers (this is not a sport for delicate people). Stacked at the 50-yard line, wrapped in blankets, we have a bird’s eye view of the carnage while 260-pound running backs pivot and pirouette like ballerinas before smashing their way into the end zone.
The half-time program with its cast of hundreds entertains the crowd while the teams take a much-deserved break. Everyone has time to consume calories against the cold and to relieve themselves of fluids.
Into the second half and tempers flare. The game shifts back and forth before momentum swings behind the home team. Lady Gaga blares over speakers to fans all too familiar with her lyrics. Many interesting human interactions to watch besides the plays on the field. With the setting sun so too diminish the chances of the opponents clawing out a win. The home team advantage channels the hurricane of the Nittany Lions as they move closer towards a hard-won victory.

With the final plays, another day of an American institution draws to a close. Ninety thousand spectators file out of the stadium having been satiated with football, hot-dogs and popcorn. Most will be back again next Sunday.


Post a Comment

<< Home