A Russian's first taste of American football: Deafening, incendiary, confusing
Ivan Yurchenko, a 27-year-old journalist from Komsomolskaya Pravda, a Moscow newspaper, is visiting the United States on a one-month internship with The Seattle Times. Ivan is gaining experience with the media in America, and also trying to look into the souls of ordinary people in Washington. Sunday, he went to his first American sports event, the Seahawks’ victory over the Arizona Cardinals at CenturyLink Field. He wrote about his experience for The Seattle Times and his newspaper.
I love football. Not the sport Americans call football, but the one they call soccer. I enjoy watching games on TV, however, it’s better to watch live. You feel the emotions and generally have more fun.
And now I’ve had the opportunity to watch not European football, but American football, the one millions of people on the other side of the Atlantic are mad about. The Seattle Seahawks hosted the Cardinals from Arizona. Sort of a bird derby.
Not only did I see an unusual event, but I got to watch from an unusual place, the press box.
A small shock was waiting for me on the way to the stadium. In Russia, when you go to a football (or hockey) game, you see five police cordons, army soldiers, trucks and Rottweilers. That’s part of the atmosphere of sports in Russia.
In Seattle, the stadium is jammed for every game (around 70,000 people) and law enforcement is almost invisible. Almost the only police I saw directed traffic at intersections outside the stadium. Inside, one policeman guarded each team’s locker room, but otherwise volunteers maintained order at CenturyLink Field.
The huge press center was well-equipped. Three rows of comfortable seats had a great view of the field, Wi-Fi worked great and there were a couple dozen TV monitors and food for every taste. In Russia, we call journalists “shark’s pens.” So, I guess, in America the shark’s pens have a comfortable and satisfying place to work.
Soon, the prematch ceremony began. The visiting team ran out onto the field to loud boos and noise. I was told that CenturyLink Field is the noisiest stadium in the United States, and, indeed, I can tell you that the roar was deafening.
Then there is a support group called the Seagals. They had more clothes on than usual because of the cool weather, but their dancing was still incendiary. The climax was the Seahawks’ players running onto the field from a tunnel. First, they released a live hawk, and then came the players. Firecrackers, fireworks, smoke: the organizers spared no effort to create the desired effect, and the audience loved it. Then sailors carried a giant American flag while a woman sang the national anthem.
Finally, the game began. And this is where I started to feel cognitive dissonance. Twenty-two burly guys in helmets ran around together, slamming into each other in the struggle for a small ball. Running around, knock, stop! Then officials restarted the play, players repositioned themselves and the crush continued. All the time.
But then a Seahawk player wearing the number 24 (Marshawn Lynch), took the ball, rushed to the end zone and fell. The stadium was in ecstasy. Then I realized I had just watched my first touchdown! And Seattle earned six points in one fell swoop!
Later, there were more and more touchdowns, and we literally swept the discouraged visitors from Arizona. Halfway through the game, the score was already very shameful for the guests. The Hawks were ahead, 38-0!
In our football, this does not happen!
After intermission, the situation did not change. The Arizona Cardinals have thrown, as we say in Russia, a full shopping bag. In the end, I even started to realize what a touchdown was all about.
The match ended with a score of 58-0 in favor of the home team, and it turned out that I was present for an historic event. It was the most lopsided game ever for the Seahawks, a team that dates back to 1976. This was a big event. History was written before my eyes in the main national sport.
It makes me happy and excited to see such a great event, of course. However, our football, with snow, slush, bald lawns and half-empty stands is still dearer. I saw a great show, but I like it more when players hit the ball with their feet and head.
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