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An Englishman in a New York state of mind
I’m a rare person, I have an equal love of English and American sport.
Going out to the New York Marathon gave me a chance to indulge in the American side of my love of sport.
It's loud and brash not for everyone but the Americans put on a show like no one else. So much so now some English sports are starting to take on some of the American Ideals like cheer leaders.
However I do have to stop things for one moment and dedicate this blog post to a good friend.
For the past three years I had travelled to Wembley for what is now the annual NFL fixture with my friend Russ C.
We are both big NFL fans and so it was always good to go with a fellow fan.
As always in October we had gone to Wembley and I was looking forward to telling him about my experience out there.
Last Friday I had logged into Facebook and to my complete shock I found out he had died in his sleep. Gutted to put it mildly he was a really good lad.
So I would like to dedicate this blog post to my friend.
The Sunday the week before I ran in the New York Marathon we had gone to Wembley to watch the New England Patriots take one the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. There was entertainment laid on before by the NFL before you went in, this came in the form of the tailgate party.
The stadium inside was amazing there really isn’t a bad seat in the house in our national stadium.
Before the game started Calvin Harris belted out a couple of tracks.
The national anthem for the USA was sung by Toni Braxton and the national anthem for the UK was sung by Katherine Jenkins.
To put it mildly these girls can sure warble.
Joe Calazaghe and Vernon Kaye were selected as honorary captains for the teams.
It was great then the game started unfortunately for the Bucs.
The Bucs aren’t a good team this year to put it mildly.
The Patriots didn’t have to play that well to beat them. The game wasn’t a patch on last years but it was a great day out.
I had played over 150 games of American football from 1994 to 2004 so always appreciate the chance to see a live game.
The next stage for me was to get out to NYC on the following Wednesday.
Thanks to a good friend from University I was to get the chance to go to game two of the baseball world series and the home team Yankees were in the finals.
The Yankees have won the world series fourteen more times than any other baseball team. The Yankees are a part of American sports folklore.
Legendary players like Babe Ruth and Joe Demagio have played for them.
In fact the number one movie for making men cry is about the life and death of famed Yankees player Lou Gehrig.
The Yankees stadium is in the Bronx and new this year at the cost of 1.5 billion dollars.
It is an amazing stadium. Jay Z and Alicia Keys opened with a New York state of mind.
It was a really good evening and you were constantly bombarded by graphics on the jumbotron.
There was one thing though that really made it stand out for me it was the fans. Lets make no mistake the world series is as intense at the FA or even the World Cup.
Yet the rival fans were able to mix without violence or trouble. This was something you could bring your family too and not worry about it.
It was great to be in an atmosphere were only a bit of banter was the main issue.
The Americans don’t apply much imagination to their chants though so they weren’t as entertaining.
The next stop was the opening home game for the New York Knicks at Maddison square garden. Another venue where they bombard you with bright lights and graphics. Lets make no mistake the Knicks are a bad team.
This is where the pre game and during game hoopla got my nerves. The game needlessly stopped and started. With a game like basketball there is simply no need.
The home fans didn’t even bother to get behind the team until the final period, it really was not a good core atmosphere.
The next day brought on the main event for me the 40th running of the New York Marathon.
Having running both New York and the London marathon before, there were elements to both runs I prefer. The organisation of London is better before and after the run. New York is better during the run.
For me there are far too many fancy dress runners in London.
I rolled my ankle in the bundle at the start of NYC marathon this year but it gave me the chance to stand back and look at some of the most inspiring individuals as I was hobbling through.
One stood out and still sticks in my mind.
It was a person who lost both legs up to mid thigh because of disease. He was doing it on a cross bar balanced on a prosthetic running blade.
He was pushing himself along with crutches. This made me really think partly because I have cerebral palsy and I am currently losing the sight in my left eye.
Yet there was this man so much worse off and was pushing himself through the barrier for others.
There was one conclusion from my American encounters.
Yes the flashing lights and loud sounds are entertaining but unless there is heart on the field of the play then it is all for nothing.
The fans won’t get behind it and it is those who make it for everyone else. A lot of these American sports won’t truly cross over unless they can truly sell the on the field product.
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