Skip to content

Winners Take All

February 9, 2011

The Pack won the Super Bowl last Sunday (31 – 25) – first time in 14 years. Unlike fans of British Football, or ‘Soccer’ as the US call it, I can say I’m backing a team who won at national level…

I learned two things in the years I’ve followed American Football. The first is always be open to a new experience. As somebody who shuns all sport except this one (plus boxing and a bit of horse racing and showjumping), I only took an interest after taking a free ticket to the first game of the European American Football ‘World Series” so as not to be left out of a trip. After having the complexities explained as the game unfolded, I became hooked. The following ‘proper’ season I had the time to watch many matches live on TV, and also study the interesting Channel 4 “introduction to the game for beginners’” film. Sadly I don’t have the time to follow it as much now – but I try to keep up, online at least, with how the guys are doing up in the very north of the lower 49 states.

Really, American Football is a lot like life. 90 millionaire meatheads fighting over 100 yards of ground and a bag of wind. The beauty lies in the cheerleaders on the touchlines (sorry, sorry – in fact, I prefer a mixed squad as male muscle allows the lighter ladies to perform amazing airborne stunts, but moving on) no, the beauty lies in the plotting and the ‘plan coming together’ or not each time. Knowing where each player should be, hoping he gets there and counting both the ‘downs’ (chances they have to keep the ball) and watching the clock builds tension wonderfully.

The second lesson I learned was ‘don’t gamble.’ 14 years ago when the Pack last won, I’d had a feeling they would, right at the start of the season. So powerful, I went – for the first time in my life – into a bookmaker. Knowing nothing, I asked how I might put a bet on for the season for my team to win. A very helpful man showed me how to fill in a betting slip, explained how odds work (it’s all fractions, nothing harder than that!) and I kept the slip safe from September until the big game that January. Sure enough, the Pack won against very long odds and after a particularly hard fought game.

The following day, I went to the bookmaker to collect my winnings. The same man served me. No smile. In fact, after checking my slip and the numbers on it, he gasped at the figures (£65) and practically threw the notes onto the counter as he gruntingly counted them out.

The great columnist Jeffrey Bernard once explained that those who use a bookmaking shop are fools – there is a reason for having three ‘paying in’ counters and only one ‘paying out.’ I learned another truth that day. While they will happily take your money, it’s a whole different story if you take theirs. Sportsmanship in that industry doesn’t come into it, and it is just an expensive pastime for the gambler, nothing more. Lesson learned, I’ll never place another bet. And I’ll give you 11 to 2 on that, any time.

Beyond that, and all together now, “We Are The Champions, We Are The Champions.” YAY!!!!

Comments are closed.

%d bloggers like this: