One of the things that I was looking forward to most living in DC was American sports. Whilst the rest of the world has turned the beautiful game into a religion, soccer in the United States is growing but still a minority sport. Much is often made elsewhere in the world of the apparent rejection of the game by the majority of the American public, instead opting for Baseball, Hockey, Basketball and of course their own version of ‘football’.
Football/Soccer in other parts of the world dominates sporting life so much that is, in many countries the only sport that matters. Of course, there is hockey leagues, basketball leagues, rugby and golf are two big sports in Scotland but football dominates above everything.
It’s nice being somewhere where one sport doesn’t dominate. If the ‘skins (Washington Redskins) lose - as they did on Thursday night - then, don’t worry too much the Capitals season is just about to the start and the Nats just clinched their division with the best record in the league! It’s nice being able to support so many teams.
Something I also found different here is the real sense of unity that American sport franchises can give to a city/area/state. In Europe, there is normally at least two major clubs in the one city and fierce rivalries ensue. Here in DC, when the ‘skins are playing almost any bar showing it will have a host of loyal fans wearing their jerseys and cheering them onto… not much by the looks of it this season, but it’s nice the sense of unity it can bring.
We’re not immune from watching US sports elsewhere in the world. Growing up Mighty Ducks was on almost weekly in my household and street hockey was played almost daily during the summer months. The Sandlot, Angels in the Outfield and the Little Cowboys are all childhood favourites which introduced the majority of us to American sports and it’s great - and still somewhat unreal - to be able to go to games and it being as stereotypical as we seen on Television.
It does give us incentive to adopt teams and having travelled a bit in the US before, I already had somewhat questionable allegiances to many west coast teams. Having been in NorCal shortly after the Giants won the world series, they were my unofficial team. That was until I actually attended my first baseball game, where the Nats took on the Giants here at Nationals Park. Despite the game ultimately ending in a Giants victory, I quickly found myself rooting for my new hometown team.
And why not continue that across all the sports? I’m here in DC for one year, so might as well jump on for the emotional roller coaster that supporting a sports team is. I’ve even got a Nationals baseball cap, which I actually where - baseball caps went out of style along with VHS tapes in Scotland, so I would be mocked endlessly back home for ‘going native’.
I should warn fellow DC sports nuts however, I can be somewhat of a curse. I proudly proclaimed my support for the ‘skins the play before RG3 was horrendously crippled.
Nonetheless, I’m here for the ride!
[Disclaimer: I’m just going to totally ignore the whole ‘skins name issue because I can].