There is always a first time for everything.. Having witnessed American Football Games only in Sweet Valley books (high school Mills & Boon), some American TV shows and some high school movies, this is the first time I am actually hanging out in a town, home to a football team called the Badgers, playing in their home stadium. The town is Madison, otherwise popularly referred to as Madtown in Wisconsin, USA.
American football, as I remember right is a game where really huge guys (huge in size thanks to the costume they wear and the food they consumer) create a stampede in the field over one almond shaped ball, trying to get it across to the other side. Football, as the Americans simply call it, is actually not Soccer, what the rest of the world play. I am fairly ignorant about both. My knowledge of sports is restricted to cricket (I am Indian afterall) and Formula 1.
Not really in a financial position to afford tickets to the game, I headed out only to observe the crowd (live entertainment). In a strange way, Madison reminded me of Monza, Italy on Race Day. Monza is the town that hosts the Italian Grand Prix, right next to Milan. The similarities were stark indeed –
1. Red is the colour of the day, else don’t be seen around.
2. Beer is the only thing you are allowed to hold , else go thirsty.
3. Loud is the tone, else forget being heard.
With the whole town heading towards Camp Randall dressed in red, I was actually the only one wearing grey and walking in the other direction. Walking through many parking lot parties and cheering crowds, I noticed that anything and everything was branded. Be it sweatshirts or caps, mugs or plates, bicycle locks or keychains, everything had the Badgers logo on it. People did sport something to fit in and people did sport something to stand out at the same time. People were breathing the team colour and living the brand in every way possible. My learning for the day was that football (or any game for that matter) is a huge business. Simply put, a commercial ballgame more than anything else.
Before every sport fanatic (including my husband) send me stinkers for that comment, I would like to say that branding apart, sports is a religion across the world. Whether its cricket in India or soccer in Brazil or football in America, its all one and the same. A sport does brings people together…. makes people do irrational things…. at the same time, makes them believe….. also makes them close their eyes and pray for a miracle…. makes them laugh, cry, scream…. makes them hate and love something with passion….
Though Madison team lost the game that day to Ohio State team (there were no fireworks that night), I still wish I had been wearing red and walking towards the stadium instead…..