Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Football and More Football

For those of you who were worried about my ability to watch the Super Bowl this past weekend, fear not; I was successful in finding a place. There is a local sports bar called Champs, which is a favorite among expats for its nightly specials (Tuesday is ½ price kebobs, Wednesday is wing night, Thursday is trivia, Friday is karaoke, Saturday is an all-you-can drink special, Sunday is movie night, etc.), its plethora of flat screen TVs, and its satellite subscriptions showing any sporting event around the world that you would ever want to see. You can see why it is slowly becoming my go-to spot. The first night I hung out there was actually on New Year’s Eve, and I haven’t looked back. Champs happily stayed open until 3am to cater for all the rowdy Americans wanting to see the big game, myself amongst them.

sign outside Champs

the back of the Champs menu outlining the daily specials

In other football news, you will all be happy to know that I have decided to become a full-fledged supporter of the English Premier League team Everton. (That's a soccer team; or, as the rest of the world calls it: football.) I spent the first few months here just happily enjoying all the games (matches) allegiance-free, but something was definitely missing. It was really easy for me to tease Dennis when his team, Chelsea, lost, or to give Desmond a hard time when his team, Manchester United, did. But they couldn’t give it back to me, because I did not support a team. This situation was pretty unfair to them. And since I have already resigned myself to probably not being able to watch a single White Sox game all season, it was also necessary for me to find another team to root for.

And so, I had the task of picking a team. For those of you who don’t know, there are 20 teams in the English Premier League. Every season, the bottom 2 or 3 teams get relegated to the second division for the next season, while the top 2 or 3 teams in the second division get bumped up into the Premiership. I didn’t go through a long process like ESPN writer Bill Simmons did when he picked a team (Tottenham Hotspur) to support back in 2006, but I had already watched enough games to know which teams were fun to watch. While Simmons based his pick on things like the owner, jersey color, and team nickname, my criteria were a little less defined. I had already narrowed it down to half a dozen potential teams back in December, and then Everton announced that they were picking up USA captain Landon Donovan on loan from the LA Galaxy. Everton was already in my top six, because I liked the coach, fans (a lot like White Sox fans), style of play and general vibe I got from their club. Not to mention their goalie, Tim Howard, is also the starting goalie on the USA national team. (For some reason, all the Premiership teams with Americans on them had made my cut.) When Donovan came in January, I anxiously watched his first few games to see how he would fit in, and he delivered in a big way. What sealed the deal for me is that their center midfielder is this tall, lanky Belgian guy named Fellaini who sports the biggest afro I have ever seen. And so it is, that I am now an Everton fan.

This is how I roll now.

The reason I mention my Everton fandom here is because I was headed to Champs on Saturday to both watch their match against archrivals Liverpool and see if they would be showing the Super Bowl the next day. While Everton unfortunately lost their game, I learned that not only would they be staying open late to show the Super Bowl, but also that Sunday night is movie night and they would be showing (a bootlegged copy of) “Up in the Air,” a movie that I really wanted to see.

When Sunday night rolled around, I made my way over to Champs for the Super Bowl and what was my first of probably many movie nights there. Sitting in fairly comfy booths with all the lights off, we watched George Clooney, projected on a good sized screen, as he fired hundreds of employees he did not employ for the next two hours. Watching a movie in a sports bar, I have to say, was quite interesting.

3 quick pros and cons:

1.) the movie was free
2.) no commercials beforehand
3.) the movie was free

1.) a few times some guys playing pool in the back room would yell and you would miss lines
2.) no previews
3.) no popcorn

Either way, the movie was pretty entertaining, and when the lights came back on, it was game time.

About an hour before kickoff, the place was filling up, and I could no longer have the booth to myself. Fortunately, a very nice couple from Atlanta sat next to me. The woman, Ashowa, had grown up in Ghana, but been in the US for most of her life and was back visiting her mother for a few weeks. About that same time, a half-dozen teenage-looking kids (I swear one girl looked like she was 13, but they were probably in some sort study abroad or exchange program.) rolled in and took the table right in front of the projection screen. Another of their group was a skinny blonde girl with a pony tail wearing a Drew Brees jersey. She quickly made sure that everyone in the bar knew she was from NOLA and led the first of about 4 dozen WHO DAT chants. I was pulling for the Saints because of two good college friends who are from NOLA and love their Saints, but honestly, this girl was so annoying (and completely wasted even before The Who stepped on stage) that I almost changed allegiances. But then I remembered Dave and Chelsey and continued rooting for the Saints.

projection screen and other TVs; loud blonde girl on the right

Ashowa, her husband and I endured the endless pregame babble from the Chris Berman, Mike Ditka and the other monkeys who never fail to look like blind people helped them in their wardrobe selections. They finally gave their picks for who was going to win, but astonishingly, none of these “experts” predicted a double-digit Saints victory or for the Colts to score less than 20 points….and Robert Meachem certainly did not have a big game, as one of them boldly stated. After the completely unnecessary God Bless America (was Rupert Murdock running the show?), it was time for the National Anthem, the coin toss and kickoff!

another view of the great Champs ambiance

All in all, it was more than I could have asked for. I got to watch the Super Bowl live at a really fun bar and have a comfy place to sit in front of several big TVs, not to mention that is was a really good game and my team won. The main/only drawback to my Ghanaian Super Bowl experience was the lack of commercials: something I look forward to almost as much as the game itself. The bar got the game on a direct ESPN feed, so all we had for 4 hours were commercials about ESPN 360 and ESPN Deportes. And the only "This is Sports Center” commercial (which are consistently hilarious) aired was the one where Drew Brees is driving a big Mardi Gras float and can’t get it through the main gates at ESPN, which we saw no less than 12 times.

When the game was finally over, the rowdy, now-drunk, blond girl led her last WHO DAT cheer and almost fell backward into the projection screen after an overly-enthusiastic jump. Looking at my watch, I saw that it was past 3am. I bid adieu to the nice couple from Atlanta and followed the crowd outside. I flagged down a cab, and quickly made my way home, where I was able to sleep almost a full 3.5 hours before my 6:59 alarm reminded me that it was Monday morning: time for work.



  2. NOBODY! (as Chelsey so aptly put it)

  3. HI SCOTTY!!! I am logging on each day to "keep up" with all going on in Accra and how you're doing!! From your blogs on Oxford Str., GELATO, road conditions, power outages, car fumes, your PSGH and a better understanding of malaria & your quest for more donor funding,Christmas goats (yuck), African snails ETC. I am loving every minute of reading all from you! Erin, Lauren, and Megan are doing great and Don and I, being "empty nesters" are working hard but having lots of fun! Please tell Dennis & Patricia hello from all of your family and thanks for keeping an eye on our Scotty!! Stay safe and happy and keep blogging!! P.S. I LOVE PLANTAIN!!!!!!!! Love you, Aunt Dotti xoxo

  4. Thanks for the update Aunt Dotti. Great to hear that everyone is doing well. Please give them my best!

  5. Everton wins with Shaktar Donetk:D...