Well, I'm still a couple of days away from being able to return to the states from my business trip (ooooh I can't wait for that jet lag). But here's what I've learned about sports during my trip so far.
- I miss the billion sports channels I have at home. Sure ESPNU sucks most of the time, but at least I know there's a game on it. It's all about the selection folks. In my hotel room (where I get a surprising number of English language channels) I get a sports channel that shows mostly soccer and another one called ESPN. The soccer is usually an interesting game from Europe so I'm okay with that. But this ESPN channel is a total crap shoot. Most days when I get in from work they are showing cheerleading competitions. And not recent ones, old ones. Yesterday was the 2004 national high school cheerleading competition. And I swear I only watched long enough to glean that piece of information. I swear.
- Basketball is huge here. The only other sports I get is on the basketball channel (equipped with a nifty logo). They show a lot of NBA which I'm sure David Stern loves and they manage to squeeze in what appears to be homeless street kids playing pickup games while their friends look on. My only complaint: they seem to show an inordinate amount of Milwaukee Bucks games. At this point I'm convinced that Andrew Bogut is the best player in the world.
- I don't fucking miss fucking talking heads fucking screaming at each other all the time. (Deep breath.) Look, I realize that ESPN has to fill an entire hour of SportsCenter but I really don't give a shit what Sean Salisbury has to say about shit. As it turns out - dramatic pause - I am completely able to form my own opinions without hearing someone else's first. I may never listen to Jim Rome again. (gotcha! I don't listen to that asshole.)
- Cock fighting: it's not only legal, it's recognized as a sport and televised! My reaction to seeing this as I flip channels: shock, then curiosity, followed by delight and finally shame. I don't care who you are, you can't not stop and watch for just a minute. Moral quandaries aside, when those feathers fly it's like a violent sorority pillow fight, with beaks. And that's good tv.
- After a week and a half I was dying to talk sports with somebody. So, the other night in the hotel lobby I ran into a fellow American who wanted to talk NFL. The guy was a total loudmouth asshole but I ate it up. I did come to one important realization by the end of the conversation. I decided that you can get away with making bold proclamations around your friends who will feel comfortable referring you as a "fucking idiot" all in good fun, but you really shouldn't start saying that sort of shit around people you don't know because then they're just going to think you're an ass. If I told Trout that Belicheck was the best coach ever or that Peyton Manning was a total hack he would cite me reasons why not and smack me around. But I just has to sit there and take it with this douche. I guess the lesson is: don't be a douche until you get to know people.
Well, I've got a ping pong game schedule with some of my counterparts over here tonight. It's the Eastern vs. Western Hemisphere showdown of the year! Tune in for a recap.