One of the things I missed while living in Finland was watching American football. When I returned to the States in October I began gorging myself on the TV broadcasts of the NFL.
So when my best friend from childhood said he would treat me to a game, I jumped at the opportunity. Sunday afternoon we headed down to Charlotte for a game between the Carolina Panthers and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
Both teams have losing records and are going nowhere. We didn’t exactly expect it to be a “game of the ages”, but I really didn’t care. It was nice to be there in the atmosphere and to spend time with my friend.
It was the atmosphere that caught my attention more than the actual football on the field. I was struck how sensitive I was to noise and constant activity. Coming from Finland, I am used to neither.
My first encounter with this culture shock was a fellow two rows in front who carried on a constant chatter with his neighbors while standing up. He has a bit of a high pitched voice, too. So he be began to get on my nerves.
Then came the public service announcements on the big screen. Policemen and kids would discuss behavioral and safety issues when there was a lull in play. I found this a little much, as I was already struggling with what I perceive as over regulation in American society. In any case, it was also the constant noise from the screen that rattled me.
But Bank of America Stadium is a beautiful place. It is a sea of blue: blue seats and fans dressed in Carolina blue.. There doesn’t seem to be a bad seat in the house. I found it ironic that the men in blue were preaching at us in this ocean of the same color.
The weather was colder than expected. The mellow blue, overcast sky, chill and faded winter sun reminded me of Finland. Add all the blue in the stadium, one of the national colors of Finland and I felt right at home, except I wasn”t dressed for it. My blue face from the cold probably added to the decor, also.
My friend and I left a little early since the game had been decided. We were also wanting to catch up on the score of the game between the Washington Redskins (our favorite team) and the undefeated New Orleans Saints. The ‘Skins were giving them a real tussle. (Unfortunately, they lost in overtime). I waited for him to pick me up and scanned the skyline. It was the first time I had spent any hours in a large American city since I had been back. I had driven through Dallas (home of the hated Cowboys) at night, but didn’t stop.
While waiting for my friend I was hit with more noise. As fans in Panther blue streamed out of the stadium, some speaker somewhere began blaring out, “Single Ladies” by Beyonce. I am not a fan of Beyonce, but I found it kind of catchy. This particular noisy rendition didn’t bother me. Maybe I am acculturating quicker than I thought.