Having attended and participated in sporting events both in Europe and North America for a number of years, the one question people always seem to ask me is ,“What’s the difference between here and Europe?”
I often have trouble answering this question without any personal bias, but looking specifically from a fan’s point of view I’ve come up with three distinct differences between sports from each respective continent.
Do European sporting supporters get to games early? Yes.
The true fan in Europe shows up early to watch the pre-game warm-up of his or her team, stays put for the entirety of the game and often stays a little bit after the game to soak up the atmosphere of a well-earned victory.
In my experience of supporting the Royals and the Chiefs, stadiums are often half-full come game time.
It seems to be acceptable to miss the first three innings of a home game, or the first quarter of a game at Arrowhead in favor of tailgating and showing up for the “business end” of these competitive events.
Perhaps the stoppages involved in American sports such as baseball, American football and basketball, where the clock might stop on any play, encourages a relaxed approach to punctuality in America, which brings me to another difference-media.
Advertising, media coverage and consumer sales are everywhere at American sporting events. And when a touchdown is scored, music bellows from speakers.
At a Chiefs game, a horse parades the field! At halftime, big screen reports are full of Sprint, Verizon and Budweiser commercials.
During the game, hotdog vendors, cotton candy carriers and refreshments race up and down the stands yelling for business.
In European sports, however, the clock keeps running, whether it is the 90 minutes of soccer, 80 minutes of rugby or 70 minutes of Gaelic football.
The sporting event is the main attraction, not the media displays or flashing lights! Granted, the income revenue for organizations which comes from this media is phenomenal, but this is an area of European sports that has not taken off.
An area of American sports which I found particularly interesting is the win-lose situation. In America you usually win or you lose; overtime and extra innings are used if needed, but in the end it’s one or the other.
In contrast, European sports tend to reward performance and there is an acceptance of getting what you deserve if you tie a game. Let’s say the Royals play the Yankees in New York and tie the game at five apiece. Would you be happy with that score?
After all, losing 6-5 in extra innings is as good as losing 18-0 with this win-lose rule right? In soccer, a team is given three points for a win, one for a tie and zero for a defeat.
Sporting KC could play Barcelona, arguably the greatest team ever to have played soccer, put on a fantastic display and tie the game 0-0.
In Europe many would say a point well earned, but in America you are going to overtime whether you like it or not.