Pomp and Extravagance

I wasn’t always a football fan, but I always loved the hoopla surrounding games. You’re not going to escape that as a marching band junkie. And really, what’s not to love? Crisp fall weather, bright shiny lights, vivid colors, the roar of the crowd, boisterous music, acts of daring-do, the thrill of victory and the agony of defeat! What a great way to spend an evening. Then, as a college student I grew to enjoy the game itself, which just added to the experience.

I’ve occasionally paused to consider the weirdness of the American college football game. It’s not hard to make the connection between a football stadium and the events held within, and the Roman colliseums with their melodramatic displays of athleticism and violence. Beyond that, I’ve been intrigued, repulsed, and eventually warmed by the sense of community surrounding the games. At first I couldn’t understand why people would spend – waste, even – an entire Saturday cooking and watching TV in a parking lot, particularly if they didn’t even have tickets to the actual game. The more I thought about the entire football thing, the more I thought it was all just a wee bit crazy.

I never really thought about how it must look to an outsider, though. Although my family isn’t a big “sports” family, as a child I certainly knew what football was and that it was important to other people. I’ve always been at least tangentially aware of the Super Bowl and the idea of homecoming games and marching bands and cheerleaders. But what would all of this seem like to someone who wasn’t a born-and-bred American?

Enter Stephen Fry.

A British author, actor, and comedian, Fry did a BBC series and wrote a book called Stephen Fry in America wherein he spent some time exploring the land across the pond. I’m not sure if this clip is part of that series or not, but it really puts the college football experience into a new and alien perspective.

I love how the marching bands seem to particularly capture his bewildered attention.

Perhaps the best part, though, is if you go through to the YouTube page where that video is originally located.  Check out the comments; all of the Brits are convinced that it isn’t real, that it’s all done with mirrors. I’d love to invite them all to a Bronco game, wouldn’t you?

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