Watching the Super Bowl LI in Florence, Italy was definitely an experience I’ll never forget. I am in no way shape or form a Patriots fan (#GoGiants), but watching the game at 12:30 a.m. with Italians and my group of friends made it all the more worthwhile. My friends and I went to a pub called Uncle Jimmy’s. When we walked in, our other friends greeted us with praise and excitement. We were thrilled to be all together in the beautiful city of Florence and watching the great game of American football.
Initially, I didn’t think that any Italians would want to come and watch an American sport. I figured if I did see any that they would just be there to see what the hype was all about. Obviously this was not the case.
A group of guys that sat at a table in front of my group of friends were a mixture of both Falcons fans and Patriots fans. This one guy even had a Gronkowski jersey, a Patriots hat, and jacket. He had told my friends and I that he has family in Boston and anytime he went to the States to visit them they would watch or go to a game.
I don’t know why I was surprised by this, but it made me realize how much sports connects people from around the world. We all grow up knowing that different sports are watched in different places, but we never truly see the impact it can have until we immerse ourselves in an unexpected environment.
For example, my dad is a big football fan and I have always grown up watching the game with him and our family and friends. I remember the feeling of excitement when our team got their first touchdown of the game. I remember the energy that went into our desire for our team to walk off the field as champions. Now I realize that all the memories I have from my childhood are connected to those around the world who also watch football and the Super Bowl.
The great thing about watching the Super Bowl IL in Italy was seeing how it brought hundreds of American students together, in conjunction with the locals in Florence. Watching the game was one thing, but cheering and booing together with strangers that soon became friends through this 6-hour celebration made it all the more worthwhile.
This post was contributed by Chelsea Opong-Wadeer, who is studying abroad with AIFS in Florence, Italy.