In the United States, a sports fan is given the option of following professional football, baseball, basketball, hockey, or soccer (among other sports). At any given time of year, you can sit down, turn on the TV, and watch a Major League Baseball, NCAA Football, and NFL Football game at the same time. Each carries its own unique customs and crowds, and some fans even leave the a baseball game to catch the Sunday Night Football game at the next door football stadium.
Fly 5,000 miles over the Atlantic Ocean, and you’ll find yourself in the middle of Football mania. In my travels through Romania I’ve heard World Cup fans banging pots and pans at 3am. I’ve been in the streets of Oxford, England when Italy defeated France in the 2006 World Cup, to hear fans shout “Italia! Italia!” Visit any pub or bar in a major European city and there is bound to be some football faithfuls watching the local Premier league game on the telly. And tonight, we will see two of the most dominant teams in Europe face in the Euro Cup Finals in Vienna, Austria.
At stake for Spain is a 44 year drought since when they last wont the Euro Cup in 1964. It happened to be in Madrid Spain. At stake for the Germans is only a 12 year drought, in which they won in 1996. As American fans, we may not be used to this type of excitement. Although you can watch an entire football match for 90 minutes and not see a goal, I’ve found that the matches can be cliffhangers. But I would like to suggest the importance of watching a diverse group of sports. If you are India, try watching cricket. It can be a confusing game, but it is soaked in a long history of tradition and competition. In New Zealand, try watching Rugby. It is closest to American Football, with an element of Soccer as well. Watching 90 minutes of a Euro Cup final game might get you hooked on something that has grown in popularity in the US.
If you decide you have enough time to watch part of the Euro Cup Finals, turn to ABC at 2:30pm EST. I’m putting my confidence in Spain. After 44 years, they deserve a Euro Cup Championship.