Sunday, March 18, 2007

Amerikansk Basketboll, March Madness and Following American Sports Abroad

As winter turns to spring and we're in between Swedish "red days" (holidays), America is experiencing the college basketball madness of the month of March. As I've been abnormally preoccupied with all things America this weekend, I figured there was no better time to share how I am surviving "without" my American sports scene--big quotes around "without."

Quick explanation for the Swedes:
"March Madness" is the affectionate term for the 6-round single-elimination college-level basketball tournament played every weekend throughout the month of March in the United States. American football and basketball at the college level is adored in the U.S. largely because the players are not paid in astronomical salaries as professional players are, which helps the common person relate to and appreciate the players a bit more than professionally-paid players. This college basketball tournament never fails to provide edge-of-your-seat excitement as favored teams lose to lower seeded teams and previously unheard of players, coaches and schools receive their one shot at tournament glory. The championship game is always played on the first Monday in April.

Upon hearing of my imminent journey to Sweden for a couple years, many people who know me well immediately began wondering how I might cope without my American sports. As stated in earlier blogs, I'm particularly fond of American football, basketball and baseball. Well, in this age of technology, for better or for worse, one simply does not need to go "without" these public, media-provided, social and cultural events. The better question for me is "How is Sean coping without his American the most ideal time of day?"

In a word, technology. The internet not only makes up for the distance with regards to news and sports, but due to ever increasing options and affordability, my following of various games and events is more thorough and enhanced than ever. If I was in the U.S., I would probably not purchase the internet coverage of events and would miss out on various advantages found through the net. All weekend I have been able to choose the game I watch with the click of the mouse, whereas on a U.S. television, one is left to the discretion of the television provider. That's a long explanation to say that, whether it's single games such as the Super Bowl or other games, or long series that cover a week or a month, most providers now have an internet option that allows those of us abroad the chance to see our games happen live. It's cool. There's only one drawback.....

....time. While events are understandably timed well for the U.S. audience, rarely is the time of these games suitable for normal viewing in Europe. In order to see my games live (and who wants to see games delayed these days anyways?), I need to be awake at all hours of the night. Sweden is 6 hours ahead of the east coast and 9 hours ahead of the west coast of the U.S. Anything that starts after a 2:00pm-west coast time, is pushing the boundary for me to have any kind of decent night's sleep. This inconvenience definitely reveals which games and events are the most important to me. I've learned that I will stay up to see my Bruins play a second-round NCAA tournament game, but I won't stay up to see St. Louis and Detroit in any of the World Series games (baseball, October). As seen in early February, I'll stay up for the ultimate American sporting event, the Super Bowl, but when Florida played Ohio St. in the American football national championship, I was only up because of jet lag, trying unsuccessfully to sleep.

A legitimate question at this point could be, "Sean, you're in Europe. Don't you have better things to do than follow American sports, which will always be here?" All I can say to that is I had naive hopes that I could leave some of these admittedly superficial things behind for a couple years, but when you're actually living in, and not just touring, Europe, life tends to settle in.

And while living here will never become normal for me, I have allowed myself a few of these guilty pleasures yes, even while living abroad and experiencing the adventure of a new country and culture--speaking of which, Linköpinglivin will be coming to you from another country next weekend.

See you next week to find out what new locale is next on the agenda.


Sarah said...

Hi Sean! Just to add some validity to your American Sports blog, we are now moving into baseball season- spring training well under way- when I become what Americans call a "sports widow", meaning that I will most definitely lose my spouse to multiple baseball games daily. :) Go Mariners!
~Sarah Barci

Todd said...

10,000 miles from any March Madness game and I STILL had to ask Sean for his bracket so I could be competitive in my pool. That might be more pathetic than spending hours upon hours in Europe watching American sports.

2 more March Madness fun facts for you:

1. The average American worker spends 13.5 minutes per day during March Madness checking scores, researching and updating brackets.

2. The tourney will cost employers $1.2 billion in lost productivity nationwide.

Ang said...

Where is the logo for WSU? Didn't we make it A LOT farther than the U ... hmmmm, yep we did!!!!!

Anonymous said...

Hi Sean: I am sooo enjoying your blog that my Canadian son, Tim, put me on to. He is in Linkoping playing Volleyball for Team Valla (in the semifinals) for his 2nd year and I am living vicariously thru your blogs of what it is like in Sweden and Linkoping. Thank you for Linkopinglivin'. Emily, my daughter, is coming to visit Linkoping before Tim comes home and I am sending her the link as you have such great info re the Swedish culture. Take in a Volleyball game!! Thanks again

wendell said...

Oh crisis! The Dodgers?! Everybody knows that everyone is watching Barry and Barry in SF these days. LA Dodgers are so passe'......