American Football in Paris
American football in Paris? Let me explain. First of all, if you ever happen to be in Europe and mention the word football? The locals think you are speaking about soccer. Football means soccer in Paris and football in America means football. Get it? Yesterday? I happened to walk by a gym, a Club Med gym in the heart of Paris.
Trying to have a little fun with the locals, I walked to the reception desk and first tried to discover if anyone spoke English, sometimes an adventure in this language protected country.
When I figured we could have a bit of a conversation with their broken English and my mangled French, I pulled out an American football and asked them if they knew what the pigskin was. Not a chance. The conversation did not go further when I prodded the receptionist to see if there was anyone else who might know about the game. They did not. I was stuck but they did ask if I wanted to workout.
Knowing that my goal was to throw around the leather I had hauled 12 hours on a plane from from California, I left the gym and headed towards a park not far from the champs deLysee. Once I entered the park, benches lined a gravel path as the locals sat and enjoyed the sun while eating their lunches. I thought I was in trouble as aech patch of lawn was surrounded by a two foot green fence as if to say, keep off. The sign posted at the park entrance also had a soccer ball with a red line through it as if to tell everyone that the grass was for watching, not using. I was just about to give up when I rounded a corner and saw a few dozen Parisians ¨using¨ the grass — okay most of the folks were either sun bathing, but it was an opportunity to stretch and get a little exercise.
A few tosses into getting my arm loose, I noticed the grass was littered with a few items I would never expect in Southern California.First there were cigarette butts strewn about the grass. I also found a few wine corks hidden in the tall grass, par for the course in Paris and finally most of the people were sitting on the lawn reading. I would expect this in french coffee shops but it appears that not many of the folks here believe in exercise.
A few folks peered over their books to see me throwing the strange object but interest did not last. Based on this small reaction from different people in Paris I do not think American football ever has a chance here. It is no real surprise then the NFL chose England to lqunch its international football experiment.
It is much easier for me to write about the Yankees current win streak, the Red Sox on a losing streak or Michael Crabtree threatening to hold out from signing with the San Francisco 49ers.
When I used to come to Paris, when the internet was new, it was so hard to receive real time information about sports leagues, teams andplayers back home. I had to settle for a two day old USA Today or spotty reporting on U.S. sports in an International Herald Tribune. Now? I can keep up easily and still explore other cultures and their local view of sports.