With the 2016/17 National Hockey League now underway, and myself being a huge Toronto Maple Leafs fan, I am very excited to see what the team can achieve this year around. I also follow the NFL, hoping the New York Jets can squeak into a playoff place this year. Meanwhile in the NBA I will always have a sweet spot for the Minnesota Timberwolves. However, there are many things that can make following American sports a tiring pursuit. I’ve listed just a few of them here.
The Time Difference
This is possibly the biggest reason why it is so hard to really get into American sports, you have to be awake at silly o clock to see any games. For Ice Hockey, if you’re supporting an Eastern team it’s not the end of the world, you’ll be looking at an 11pm/midnight start. However, if for some reason you support a western conference team, be ready for regular 3am/4am starts. I’ve spent many a night staying up way too long considering I have a 9am the next day. I’m also quite sure quite a few of us have called in sick the morning following the super bowl.
No-one Else Watches Your Sport
So you arrive in university/work, and there’s a group of people talking about sport so you approach them. Of course it’s football, so you move onto another group, and it’s rugby (or more likely, just more football). The trouble with North American sports is that you have to search high and low to find other people as fanatical about your sport with who to talk to. And once you do, you probably appear a bit too enthusiastic and they quickly leave, or at least I’ve found this from my own experience.
You Can’t Go In Person
Unless you have a spare £700 in your pocket, you aren’t exactly going to be seeing your team live anytime soon. Especially if you’re an NFL fan where the waiting list for becoming a season ticket holder is so long, people pass their spot onto their children in their will. The NFL and NBA do grace us with their presence this side of the pond every now and then. But if you somehow got a ticket it’s unlikely to give you your fill of live action. And the UK teams just aren’t the same.
No-one Sells Any Merchandise
As a fanatic ice hockey jersey collector, this one possible pains me the most. You can visit a number of high street shops and find football shirts for every team under the sun, but try and find a NHL jersey, or a NFL top and you will probably fail. Your only option is to go online and pay an extortionate price to have the goods shipped to the UK or spend many hours trawling through ebay in the hopes of something that isn’t a cheap rip-off.
You have to put up with a lot of stereotypes
Oh you watch ice hockey, that’s just Canadian men with grizzly beards punching each other. American Football? Just a bunch of guys wearing padding and not quite playing rugby. Basketball? Yeah sure, but it’s not really a sport when being tall guarantees you the win… The list could go on, and while some of these points are valid, they are definitely not all encompassing. There is so much more to admire in American sports than what people think and if they just gave them more of a proper chance they might actually find it to be quite interesting.
Ultimately, it’s always going to be an uphill challenge to follow those niche USA sports. But at the end of the day, I will continue the struggle because its great quality sport and I love it!