Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Hosting a Super Bowl Party

My girlfriend and I are planning to host the super bowl party at our new house for the first time. Being the first time but knowing how big a day this is I am feeling some pressure. I know that its a day enjoyed by all not just those football fans that follow their team all season long. With the super bowl comes half time entertainment and of course the commercials as well as the much anticipated championship game.

I have tried to do as much research as I can, without overloading my brain, by looking for hints and tips to being a great super bowl party host. It seems that the most important thing besides having a TV that works is the food. The food should be finger food with a range of options and have it ready. There is nothing worse than trying to get it all finalised once the game has started! I am all ready working on ideas for the spread we will offer.

Very closely following the food is the beer and to some this would be way ahead of the snacks. Make sure one there is enough and two that you have a place to keep it cold. Whats the use in having cases of beer if they are all going to be warm. This week I will be working on eating my way through the food that is in the fridge to make space. Also be sure to have a couple other options in the beverage department for non beer drinkers and also the drivers.

Another key to making it feel special and different from other parties you host is to decorate the place in the team colors. We have a couple jerseys to wear and have to look into some other blue and white decorations to support the Giants!

A few websites also suggest making the game more interesting for the non die hard football fans by having some friendly money on the game in the form of boxes. The key being friendly money don't gamble your rent money keep it reasonable. I also like to have a lucky dip for first and last touchdown scorer which I used to have a lot of fun with watching football (soccer) matches with my college flatmates. This gives people someone to cheer for and get excited about touchdowns even if they don't really care who wins.

But the key seems to be keep it simple lots of food, lots of drink, liven the place up a little and add extra interest in the game by putting friendly money on the line. So average sports fans and more experience super bowl hosts please offer me any other advise that will make our super bowl 46 party a hit.

Transfer Deadline Day Drama

Well this January transfer deadline day was not quite as intense as last January (60 million compared to 225 million last year) but it is still one of the most exciting days of the football season. There are people who are against the transfer window format but I personally like it a lot. It brings excitement to the middle of the season and it also gives teams the peace of mind that they have the squad they have for the rest of the season.

As a Blackburn fan I am now safe in the knowledge that the squad we have is the one that is going to finish out the season and hopefully be good enough to keep us up. There was a fair bit of action for the Rovers today with both some ins and some outs. We were involved in one of the bigger stories of the day with Ryan Nelson being released so he could join spurs which I am not that happy about as he is a true leader and would add some valuable experience to the situation we find ourselves in. It was also a classic deadline day move were there was a press release stating he was playing in a behind closed doors game to get his fitness back and the next thing you know is he has been released. That's the drama of transfer deadline day. It also is standard that Harry Redknapp is involved in the late action as with pretty much all the transfer windows. But don't ever call him a wheeler dealer to his face (see below).

But as an average sports fan I spent the majority of my work day following the live feed on the BBC sport website. Hoping for a big signing for my team (it didn't happen) but also just enjoying the gossip and rumour mill turning in full force. Its not only about the signings however its also about keeping your players which was a big deal for the Rovers but no major outs, Nelson aside, so know its time for tomorrows game with Newcastle and pushing on through the season with the squad we have. I believe we have enough to stay up and hopefully push on next season.

Hope all you average sports fans enjoyed the transfer deadline as much as I did!

Saturday, January 28, 2012

Is there any loyalty left in sports?

It is not often you see players playing for only one team throughout their career. This has not always been the case though so why the change.

The following link shows a list of one-club players. The trend I immediately noticed is that the majority of these players were in the game years ago.


You do however see some players from today's era. There are players such as Francesco Totti at Roma, Ryan Giggs at Manchester United and Carlos Puyol and Xavi at Barcelona.

However what you will even notice here is these are players at top teams, Champions league teams. You don't see many, if any at low level teams such as my team Blackburn Rovers. As a Blackburn fan I have seen many great talents playing at Ewood but eventually they move on. But can we really blame them is the question. We talk about loyalty but we have to understand the players position too. They want to be the best they can be and teams in Blackburn's position are not going to be able to offer them regular European football. I think most fans understand that and it is not the players leaving that gets to fans it is the way the players go about it. Two perfect examples are Phil Jones and Chris Samba.

I strongly believe, and have no grudge towards, Phil Jones for leaving Blackburn. He left in the summer after having a great season in which he played a huge part in saving the club from relegation. We got a lot of money for a young player and for him personally it was time for him to challenge himself on another level.

Chris Samba on the other hand is going about it completely the wrong way. I understand that he himself feels let down by the owners but coming out an saying you don't think you can give 100% anymore to the club that is paying you an outragous salary and has brought you from a team where you were not in the starting line up. Blackburn put Chris Samba on the map and he should appreciate that and at least help the team get through this season and help keep us in the league and then in the summer you can push for that move and force your hand. But what he is doing know is disrupting the club in a crucial part of the season and history of the team.

It is not only the players that lack loyalty however. In the modern game which is now very money driven and business like. Players are seen as assets and money makers for owners, agents etc. They are not given the loyalty that players once were. They know that a bad season can mean the end of there time at a club no matter how many good years they have given to the club. The amount of money in modern sports is the main reason for the dimise of loyalty in sports. Lower level teams need the income from the sale of there best players to survive and the top teams cannot afford to carry players that have given 10 plus years to the team in the risk of missing out on Champions league football and the revenue that it brings.

It is not just in football that this is happening. In american sports there is the same problem. The big teams are able to offer not only bigger wage packets but exposure to the bigger media interest leading to bigger advertising and marketing deals for these players. Look at the NBA the superstars are all pulled towards the big city media in the cities of Miami, New York and LA. However hats off to Kevin Love for recently signing a long deal with Minnesota.

That is another thing though contracts really mean nothing in sports anymore. Look at Samba again he only just signed a long 5 year contract but it was really just a way for him to get more money. Money is the drving power in todays sports world and money and loyalty do not fit together at all well. This makes it hard for us average sports fans to have idols as players pass in the blink of an eye rather than an era of a sports team. 

Friday, January 27, 2012

Anywhere Anytime

Its 6 am on a Friday morning and I have been awake for two and a half hours already. You may be asking yourself why? Well its simple the alarm I set for 3.30am to watch the Murray vs Djokovic semi final of the Australian open woke me up. People will think I am crazy, I am not I am just an average sports fan.

This is not the first time I have set alarms for times during the middle of the night or stayed up late on a night before work to watch some type of sport. I am not a huge tennis fan but its a semi final and a great match up of the number 1 and 4 seeds so why wouldn't I want to watch it. I also did this many times during the rugby world cup to follow England's progress. I have a work colleague from Scotland who set alarms to watch every single game from that world cup. Bear in mind these games were on at, I believe, 1am and 4am every morning. I have to admit he wasn't looking to great at work after the second week of doing this.

Being a sports fan can be tough but it is well worth it. Maybe not always I have woke up at 7am to watch the early premier league game and it has been a 0-0 with maybe 1 shot on target and only a couple of highlights from 90mins of play but it is worth the risk as there would be nothing worse than missing it and it being a classic. I don't often get the chance to sleep in but that doesn't stop me from missing the chance to watch a sport event whether its a premier league game or any other match.

Sports fans don't only make themselves sleep deprived but also will find a way to watch 'the game' no matter where they are. I have been lucky enough to do so travelling across the globe in my fairly short life so far. But no matter what country I am in or the surroundings I have always found a way to keep up to dates on my sports.

I remember walking for miles on an island in Thailand to find a bar that was showing that unforgettable Wimbledon final between Federer and Nadal. But we found one and one with a great crowd. This is how I know I am not alone in my passion for sports. There were people gathered to watch this great match from all over the world from America to Sweden to Thai locals.

This love for sports is something that is built into me. I know that its not always the best idea to skip on a good nights sleep or step away from a family gathering to watch sports but I just can't stop myself. I know its not just me it is all the average sports fans out there.

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Why do you support that team?

This is a very common question asked by many around the world and there are so many different answers. Depending on what team you ask me about I would give you a different answer. I don't believe there is a correct answer the only thing I believe is that once you have chosen that is the end of it. That is your team forever and I mean forever. Not just in the good times but through the bad as well.

I personally have two reasons. Blackburn Rovers a team that has given me so much joy and just as much stress and misery. Many people have called me a glory hunter and maybe at the start I was a little. I moved from New York to Southampton, UK when I was two and my Dad being an American did not have a team he followed. So I didn't have a family tradition to follow which is a major reason many people follow a team. They follow them because their family have for many generations. The obvious choice for me would have been Southampton being that was my new home team. But I was young and was a big fan of the one 'Alan Shearer'. He was at Blackburn and that was me sold. This was my team. Yes at this time with the Jack Walker money they were a power house in the Premier League.

As a kid I was lucky to have chosen such a successful team and enjoyed a league winning season in 1995. But it didn't stay joyful and successful for much longer. By the time they were relegated in 1999 they were already my team. I had chosen and that was that. I was sticking with them through thick and thin. Through relegation's, cup wins and now new owners and a very rocky period in the clubs history. My wonderful girlfriend of nearly three years is still trying to get to grips with this concept. After a Blackburn loss she has often asked me why do I do it to myself. Why don't you just pick a new team that actually wins. I of course take some offence to this little dig but know that she is doing it to wind me up. But I always give her the same answer they are my team and this will never change.

Now I am back living in the USA and have picked up new sports teams to find a place for in my heart. I used a different reasoning and my choice may have been effected by my previous experiences. I have decided to support all NY teams. The Giants in American football, the Yankees in baseball and the Knicks in basketball. People always told me that I should have been a Southampton fan but I wasn't so maybe that is why I have chosen to take on all NY teams.

But as just your average sports fan it doesn't really matter how you chose your team but what's important is that no matter what they will always be your team.

Unforgettable Moments

As a sports fan I have experienced a number of unforgettable moments, moments that I can remember as if they were yesterday. I remember where I was, who I was with and the feelings I had at that time. This is what being a sports fan is all about!

My first unforgettable moment came in May 1995 when I was just 9 years old. Watching Blackburn vs Liverpool on our families 15" TV. I had chose to sit in the chair that was right in front of the TV and for most of the game my face must have been no further than 4 feet away from the screen. I remember being so nervous, yes I was nine and I was nervous I guess sports has this effect on all ages. It only got worse as that free kick went in to give Liverpool a 2-1 lead but all that was lifted watching the Rovers fans in the stand listening on the radio to the full time whistle at Upton Park. West Ham had held on to give Blackburn top spot in the league. This brought pure and unforgettable joy to a 9 year old. I was jumping and leaping around the room so loud that it scared my Mum. She rushed in asking whats wrong? 'Whats wrong! Nothings wrong they just won the league' I answered. My oldest and probably fondest sporting fan moment.

Not all unforgettable moments can be as joyful as my first and my next one was definitely not. It came 4 years later in 1999. I again took up my position in the same chair (I now thought of it as the lucky chair and had sat in it for pretty much every game I watched). I remember thinking I would need the luck on this day. Blackburn needing to win against United to survive another day in the Premier League. But the lucky chair couldn't do anything to help as Blackburn could only manage a 0-0 draw which meant relegation. I remember sinking deeper and deeper into 'the chair'. It was enough to bring tears to my eyes and again my Mum was there this time to offer words of consolation. 'They will be back next year don't worry'.

She wasn't exactly right but pretty close. It was in 2001 when a single Matt Jansen (one of my boyhood heroes) goal gave Blackburn a 1-0 win over PNE and promotion back to the best league in the world. This unforgettable moment was the first that didn't involve 'the chair'. I was staying with my Dad at the hotel he managed and the only place the game was on TV was in the staff's social lounge. I remember my Dad's work colleagues trying to talk to me and I was just nodding them off. I just wanted to be left alone to watch the game. I was rewarded for my teams promotion with a half pint from my Dad even though I was only 15!

I didn't have to wait long for the next moment as it came a year later in 2002 when Blackburn made it to the league cup final. My Dad and I headed to our hotel in Cardiff (Wembley was still being rebuilt) the night before the final and as we entered the lobby we were greeted with a sign saying 'Welcome Blackburn Rovers FC'. It took a few seconds to sink in but then I realised we were staying at the same hotel as the team. My Dad looked at me with a smile knowing he had done well! I got to meet many of the players throughout the night and morning of the final and sent them off on the team coach. I will never forget bumping in to players in the hallways of the hotel. It got better the following day as I celebrated Andy Cole's winning goal in the final and celebrated in the stands with my Dad. What a weekend one I will never forget, Thanks Dad!

As a kid I was all about football (soccer) and that was the only sport for me. However as I got older I started to spread my sporting wings and with working summers in New York (my place of birth) I started to add new sports teams to my heart and soul. One of them was the NY Giants and they bought me my most recent unforgettable moment.

In 2008 I was studying at Cardiff University and living with 5, non American football fan, roommates. But this didn't stop me staying up very late into the night to watch the Giants win the Super bowl against the undeafted Patriots. I was able to convince a few of my roommates to stick around to watch the first half. Although I think they were just there for the game snacks because once they were all gone they all headed off to there rooms. They all said there was no point watching, they were not followers of the sport and as like many others looked at the facts and well the Patriots were undefeated. But as a fan you always believe in your team even against all odds. I remember that final drive like it was yesterday. Manning escaping the tackles the catch by Tyree. I was very happy to gloat the next day to my roommates that they were not only wrong to doubt my team but also that they missed an unforgettable second half and unforgettable moment in my life.

I am just your average sports fan and have many unforgettable moments that I cherish and catch myself thinking about from time to time just like I am sure we all do. I hope we all have many more to come hopefully the ones full of joy and not the ones of sorrow.