Given the dearth of news in the NFL this off-season, news-worthy (and thus news-commenting) articles are rare. I was pondering potential topics for my weekly article, when I realized that my upcoming business trip to Germany would coincide with the German national soccer championship match (what they call football).
Now, if spending eight hours stuffed into a coach class seat to go to a place that sounds exciting to your wife but not to you is your thing, then you would enjoy business travel. However, since I had the “pleasure” of traveling, I decided it would be a great opportunity to compare soccer fans in Germany to Lions fans in Detroit, especially as I was going to be there on the day of the championship game (their version of the Superbowl) and would be able to experience the game day atmosphere.
The first thing I couldn’t help but notice were the crowds of men and women clad in blue soccer jerseys. The reason I couldn’t help but notice them was because they were EVERYWHERE, and they were loud, raucous, and singing every three minutes. This started at about 9:00 in the morning and continued until around 7:00 that night, which is when the game took place. The normally reserved Germans were singing in the streets, they were singing in the bars, they were singing in the subway, they were singing in the stadium….Lord help me, I can still hear the singing. I have yet to hear singing at Lions game. While it eventually became annoying I admire the passion: Winner: German fans
Both sports draw massive crowds and both sports obviously have passionate fans. In both sports some fans enjoy a beer or two, but I didn’t see the people in Germany actually tailgating. Maybe this is because you can legally carry beer down the street and walk to get food, but there was no one grilling burgers, ribs or other tail-gating food, no throwing a football around or anything, before the game. Winner: Lions fans
Both team’s fan proudly wear their teams colors. But in Germany they don’t only wear soccer jerseys, but hats, scarves, bandanas, face paint, etc. Winner: German fans
In the US, when our team wins, we go home. In Germany, when their team wins, they drive around in the cars honking their horns and yelling at people on the sidewalks. Winner: German fans
In the US, we not only have the football season, but we also have the draft and the free agent period. It is a 365 day-a-year bonanza of information, rumor and discussion for football fans. I honestly don’t know if Germany has this, so I will call this one for Detroit: Winner: Lions fans
In the US, most teams have cheerleaders. In Germany they might. I could not research this as the firewall at my office frowns on searches involving the keyword “cheerleaders”. However, as the Lions do not have cheerleaders anyway, I call this a draw for the fans.
In Germany, when their team loses, they have no one to blame. Lions fans still have Matt Millen. Winner: Lions fans
So it appears we have a tie.
But then I found this article, and it was enough to break the tie. It seems that as a result of Germany doing well during the World Cup soccer event in 2006 (also held in Germany), the Germans had a population explosion nine months after the event. I mean, the Super Bowl is awesome, but to see a nationwide increase in pregnancy rates as a result of your sports teams? I have to give it to Germany (more specifically to German women), for their dedication.
Overall winner: German fans
Now, obviously comparing not only two different sports but two different countries and cultures might not be a fair comparison, and I had expected more differences, but there were a lot of similarities which I hadn’t expected. Both sets of fans were passionate and dedicated. In both countries the sport is woven into the fabric of their culture. Both sets of fans thoroughly enjoy the game day experience. And both set of fans are just as elated, or just as heartbroken, depending on the outcome of the game. It just goes to show the love of sports is the same worldwide, regardless of culture.