I went to my first “real” football game today in Sweden. Not “association football” but the real thing, from an American perspective at least. Yes, they play American football in Sweden and the sport does have some popularity in the country. It probably ranks somewhere below curling but above (maybe) darts.
Anyway I found out about this one day during my Swedish classes when, on a break, I was wandering around outside the school and saw an office for the Halmstad Eagles with football helmets in the window. The office remained closed for the duration of my classes but my curiosity was piqued and I discovered that, yes, they do play football here and yes, Halmstad had a team. It was founded in 1986 but closed down a number of years ago due to lack of funding but started back up again just recently.
There are actually two American football leagues in Sweden, an upper and lower league. Halmstad is in the lower league, having just started back up a year ago. A guy I talked to told me that the Gothenburg team once had a running back who once played for the Detroit Lions and they just gave him the ball on every play and let him do the rest. I also read that one of the teams on Stockholm had a quarterback this year who played in the NFL briefly. There are leagues in Germany at least plus the NFL Europe league, so the sport does have some following throughout the continent. NFL games are televised on Sundays and Mondays throughout the season but college games will be hard to find now that ESPN America folded its tent n August.
Mariette’s mother is an avid sports photographer and we made a date to check out the action of this season’s last home game against the Hässleholm Hurricanes.
The game took place on another really, really nice day. The weather has been great since the beginning of May, going on FOUR MONTHS now, unheard of by anyone I have asked. The Eagles, in green, scored first and kicked off. It was pretty much all Hässleholm for the rest of the afternoon, unfortunately.
The players come in all shapes and sizes. Some of the linemen look like NFL players, big guts and all though I did not see any 300 pounders. The quality of play is about the level of a middling high school team, though there were several good pops throughout the game.
The passing game for both teams was decidedly second-rate and that is being charitable.
The home crowd. A guy was calling the game over a PA system and between plays there was hard rock/heavy metal music playing all game long. The lingo is a mix of Swedish and English (“incomplete pass,” “touchdown,” “extra point,” “tight end”).
Six officials called the game and did a passable job, I thought.
Throughout the game I noticed another American contribution to Swedish society and by the 4th quarter it was hard to ignore any longer.
I am talking, of course, about chemtrails. The planes were out spraying much of the day. I noticed it this morning while out walking the dogs and by late in the afternoon it was looking pretty bad. I never noticed these in Sweden until around 4 or 5 years ago but since we moved here two years ago they are becoming more frequent. More and more people are becoming aware of them but there is no debate about them, which makes them a perfect theme for my next art exhibition, “Our Beautiful Skies.” Here’s one painting of several I have completed so far:
This is a beautiful view near our house.
Anyhow, the game was fun. Mariette’s mom got some good shots, her dad did some funny sketches, the crowd had a good time, the players played hard and Halmstad got waxed about 41-12. I talked to an American who has lived in Halmstad since 1970 and supports the team. He said that when he moved here Sweden was without question the best country in the world and thought it has slipped since then it is still pretty damn good. I agree.
The season ends next week and begins again next spring. I’ll plan to be a more frequent spectator. They are just getting back into the game so they will improve and it will be fun to watch their progress.
All in all, a really enjoyable afternoon. Go, Eagles!