Tuesday, September 13, 2011

It's all in the game

My original idea for this blog was to compare "life in North Carolina from the perspective of an Englishman".  In other words to emphasize the differences.

I've always been a fan of team sports and have never bothered too much with individual games.  Among the team sports played in England, Association Football, Cricket and Rugby Football are by far the most popular.  There can be no doubt that football is by far the most attended.

Here in the US team sports are huge. Although North Carolina has, to my knowledge, only two major sports franchises (NHL's Carolina Hurricanes, based in Raleigh and NFL's Carolina Panthers, based in Charlotte) college sports reign supreme.

Basketball and football dominate, but field hockey, lacrosse and baseball have big followings. Blue Devil (Duke), TarHeel (UNC) or Wolfpack (UNC State), the rivalry outweighs any thing Manchester United/City, Arsenal/Chelsea or Liverpool/Everton fans experience in the soccer mad UK. Tickets are always hard to come by, but nigh impossible at derby games. The TarHeels football stadium seats 63,000, Carter-Finley Stadium, home of the Wolfpack, seats 57,500, while Wallace Wade Stadium, home of the Blue Devils is bursting at the seams with 40,000. These three football venues are with 23 miles of each other!

Although of no appeal to me, motor sports are also big here, not surprising with Americas love of the automobile. NASCAR (National Association for Stock Car Auto Racing - not to be confused or compared to stock car racing in the UK) has a huge following and has, I believe just been made North Carolina's state sport. The Charlotte Motor Speedway has 140,000 seats, whilst over the state line in Tennessee the Bristol Motor Speedway holds 160,000 fans of this amazing spectacle.

Gail has never been a fan of sport (BrEng)/sports (AmEng), but has become a huge fan of baseball. We now regularly support Durham Bulls, the Triple-A affiliate of the Tampa Bay Rays. Bulls are probably the most well-known minor league team, if only through the wonderful movie Bull Durham. The ball park, Goodmon Field, as a modern, well-appointed and friendly stadium situated in the American Tobacco District of downtown Durham. I can think of fewer relaxing or enjoyable things to do on a summer's evening than to watch a game, drink a cold beer, eat from a large range of concessions and enjoy the between innings fun. Bulls won their section of the International AAA League and reached the play-offs before being beaten by an excellent Columbus Clippers outfit.

It's not cricket? No it's not, but I like it . . . and I just wonder if, unlike here, you could "hear a pin drop" whilst the National Anthem was being played at Lords or the Oval? Oh, I forgot - it isn't PC to do that in England - is it?

Soccer (AmEng)/Football (BrEng) is represented locally by Carolinal RailHawks, who play in the North American Soccer League (NASL), the second tier of the American Soccer Pyramid.

American sporting events really are entertaining occasions, whether your team is winning or not.

1 comment:

eastnorfolkbus said...

Hi Mick

As you are always visiting my blog I thought I would take a look at yours.

Didn't know we had more in common - yes I like Ed McBain, yes I like the NFL (Raiders fan!) and also baseball too (saw a Memphis Redbirds game a couple of years ago).

We have been to USA every year since 2001(except 2011) and enjoy it every time! Coming back next year to do a tour of the National Parks starting in Denver and finishing in Scottsdale.

All the very best for the new year

aka East Norfolk Bus