The Big Game Wasn't So Super in France

We did not watch Super Bowl XLIX last night. Apparently is was a great game right until the end. Congrats, Patriot fans. Sorry, Seahawk supporters. As Sooner fans, we know all too well the disappointment of crappy play-calling at the end of a game.

Sports are huge parts of the pub scene here in the French countryside, but they seem to be viewed with a completely different mindset. Walk into just about any bar or pub in the States and you’ll find televised sports. That’s the same here, but with two key differences: volume and variety.

By volume, I don’t mean acoustics. When’s the last time you saw a bar with only one TV in the States? Chances are, you probably have three or four monitors you can watch without swiveling your head too far. Over here, there’s one. One TV, usually mounted on far wall. Never behind the bar where you can sit and stare straight ahead at the moving picture. But everyone at the bar is watching. Intently.

You might assume that limitation of screen real estate limits variety. You would be wrong. Though only one sporting event is playing at any given time, predicting what that sport might be is a fools errand, at least from my perspective. Here are the sports we’ve seen so far:

  • F1 racing - The very same F1 racing you can watch in the States, but oddly devoid of replays. It’s the strangest thing to hear the announcers exclaim about what can only be a mid-race spin-out or crash, only to find the camera fixed on the crash that just happened. And it stays there. No replay. In about 15 seconds, they’ll exclaim again, and we get to see another just-missed-it shot of a stationary, smoking vehicle. If the car is on fire, the camera stays there until the fire crew arrives. Replay? Nah. Watching fire extinguishers, there’s the real fun.
  • Handball - Not American handball, which is racquetball without racquets. Handball is lacrosse without sticks. But they can’t call it that, as “lacrosse” literally translates to “the stick”. Take that away and you have… ? You can’t very well ask your mate “Hey, did you watch the … game between Poland and Qatar last night?” So they call it handball, because there’s a ball. And players carry it and throw it with their hands. It’s fast paced, high scoring, and you do not want to be the goalie. Ouch.
  • Bowls - Bowls -- not to be confused with bowling, the Super Bowl, or bowels -- is the European version of cornhole. But instead of throwing sandbags through the air at the target, payers roll somewhat spherical sandbags down a lane at the target. Being mostly spherical, they take an odd curved roll, so it takes skill to put just the right spin with just the right force at just the right angle to get the bag/ball to land where you want it. Think curling, but without brooms and at room temperature.
  • Soccer -- futbol or footie -- is pervasive. When no other sport is available on the pub TV, soccer is on. Because soccer is always on. Regardless or day or time. Kinda like Smokey and the Bandit. Flip through enough channels and you’re bound to find it playing. Perhaps in a foreign language.

And that’s just at the small number of bars we’ve been patronizing. Let’s see what Denmark pubs have to offer. Sports!