A Big Blue Blog
How can one possibly talk about football on a travel blog, you ask? Well, I’m not sure, but I’m going to try. Besides, reindeer running and paintball have already been done. To begin with, my experience with this year’s NFC Championship game was an international one. The New York Giants were playing the Green Bay Packers in frigid Wisconsin, and I convened with my brothers, Max and Will, at Will’s apartment. Also present were Will’s fiancée and her two friends, all three of whom are Canadian. While we Davidson boys sweated and swore and tried to sweet-talk the game in our favor, the ladies chatted and enjoyed some wine, and watched, more or less dumbfounded, at the depths of obsession that they were witnessing from three blue-bedecked, grown men on the couch. As my brother once said, “We’re not religious, but we watch the Giants every Sunday.”
The ladies are no strangers to sports culture. Dedicated hockey fans, they stand by their Maple Leafs and have no fear of harsh winter weather like the arctic chill that swept through Lambeau Field. They scoff at the lack of toughness in athletes who are not hockey players and at the knowledge and dedication of American sports fans. However, by the third quarter the women were rapt, in part by the game, but also by the three 6’3” boys perched on the sofa’s edge, biting nails, bouncing legs, and clenching fists in nervous anticipation of every down. As regulation time wound down, one of his fiancée’s friends actually leaned over to check Will’s pulse. He didn’t notice the hand at his jugular; he was too busy willing his heart to continue beating—or not to explode—as Tynes’ field goal hooked wide left, sending the game into overtime.
When all was said and done, after my brothers and I woke the neighborhood with our wild-eyed leaping, yelling celebration, the Torontoniennes—as relieved as anyone that the game was finally over—admitted that the excitement had surpassed any Leafs game they had ever watched, and that the display of fanaticism was both so uniquely American in the specificity of the sport, but also culturally universal. On top of the incidental lesson in foreign relations that the Davidson ambassadors administered, there was yet another, deeper meaning.
You see, Big Blue has exemplified what it means to be good travelers. They are well-prepared when they hit the road—winning a record 10 consecutive road games—including those situations that don’t necessarily fit into their regular itinerary. Whether they were forced inside, or into unseasonable warmth, or even dangerous freezing cold, they have persevered. They have counted on their preparations, made adjustments in their plans where necessary, and are now getting ready for the trip of a lifetime. Let’s hope they get one more chance to travel before next season.
Have you experienced such sports fanaticism as a stranger in a very strangely obsessed land?
My name: Charlie Davidson
How I earn my keep: Writing and editing for IgoUgo.com.
First thing I do in a new place: Lace up the shoes, go for a run or a long walk, and find out what the best local beer is.
Best meal I've had while traveling: I was in Basel, Switzerland, with my family and we drove to Germany one night for their famous white asparagus. It cut like meat, but was tender and sweet. Accompanied by homemade condiments and some German lager, it's an easy way to eat your veggies.
Greatest travel lesson learned: Keep your eyes and mind open, avoid the beaten path, and when in doubt, smile.
When I'm not traveling, I'm: Playing any sport I can.
Travel ambitions: To visit all 7 continents in one continuous trip.
Who I am: An obsessed athlete. I'll try any sport there is. I picked up hockey at age 8, lacrosse at 13, squash at 18, Aussie Rules Football at 20, and marathon running at 23. Now, I do them all. I've also played cricket and rugby, football and baseball, and even some sport called soccer. No sport is too obscure. However, I don't think I'd cut it as a jockey.
Favorite way to get around: Either walking or running is the best way to see the sights, especially the ones you weren't necessarily looking for.
Fondest travel memory: All of them!
Favorite place on earth: Home is a big town on a small island. No matter what ends of the Earth I reach, I always come back to New York.