Archive for February, 2013

Super Six Nations Bowl

The Fulbright Programme is all about cultural exchange; it’s about sharing stories and experiences across borders; it’s about learning new things; it’s about immersing yourself in a different country. Now, we tend to think about things like politics, movies, music, lifestyle, food and so on as being some of the main ‘culture’ things that can be shared and talked about. For example, in the US, I still don’t understand why cheese comes in such small packets, and in the UK, I’d love it if more bars had a US-style ‘tab’ culture as a matter of course, and my life is more enriched knowing about these kinds of things.

But one thing which kind of flew under my radar as a ‘cultural exchange moment’ was… sport. Now, I enjoy American sports, particularly football and baseball. With lots of breaks in the games, you don’t have to concentrate too hard for the whole game, there’s lots of opportunities for chat and banter, and when something does happen, it’s normally pretty exciting. But I also enjoy British sports, primarily rugby, my ultimate game of choice, a game I have been in love with for about seven years ago now (but oh how I wish I had got into it earlier in life!).

It just so happened that last weekend was the start of the Six Nations, that special (delusional?) time of the year where Scottish rugby fans get all optimistic that *this year* will be the year our team’s fortune turns around and we’ll become a world-beating rugby force. And what better way to share British sporting culture with America than inviting some friends down to the pub to watch the opening game of Scotland vs. England? Alas, although another abject 80 minutes of rugby action on Saturday afternoon put paid to any thoughts of Scotland winning this year’s Six Nations Championship, it was great to show what makes the Six Nations such an enduring spectacle, with the anthems and the flags and singing and the passion displayed both on and off the pitch (field).

But my weekend of sporting exchange wasn’t all one-way, and Saturday’s rugby game was followed on Sunday by an excellent night’s entertainment at a Super Bowl XXII party, and for the first time, I really got to see why football holds such a sway over the American public. The size of the show, the entertainment, the drama, the social aspect, the rivalries, the sub-plots; all of it combined to produce a brilliant game, and one which although totally different to the Six Nations, was just as compelling and entertaining.
Now, if only we could get Beyonce, Bruce Springsteen or Tom Petty to do a half-time show during the Six Nations games….- The Social Linguist