By Victoria Lewis
I have been in Kansas all of two-and-a-half weeks, after a 27-hour flight from my hometown in Brisbane, Australia to play basketball here at Hutchinson Community College.
Coming from a foreign country, my knowledge of American football only goes so far as the final scene of most high school romantic comedy movies. So it was safe to say I had no idea what to expect when attending my first college game over the weekend, when our Blue Dragons played Iowa Central at Gowans Stadium.
Watching with my teammates, like a true foreigner, I had many questions about the game. Here are some of the most pressing.
Do they really need all the padding?
The helmets and shoulder pads, while very fashion forward, seem extreme. I couldn’t help but think of how long it would take each of them to get ready for the game. I can totally appreciate that it is necessary for the players’ safety, but I have to say, as someone who has only ever seen rugby or Australian Rules Football (AFL), it does seem a touch over the top.
Why are there so many of them?
Another peculiarity of American football to me was the fact that all the substitutes were standing all along the sides of the field. This only made it all the more obvious that the number of players on an American football team is comparable to that of the live audience. I can definitely say that never in my life have I seen a sports team that has over sixty people. It’s quite a sight.
How does everyone else know where the ball is?
Tried as I did, I could not for the life of me figure out where the ball was most of the game. I still managed to cheer along with the crowd for Hutchinson, but I must confess, every play was followed up with a whisper in my teammate’s ear; “Wait, what just happened?”
Whose idea was it to ‘mic up’ the referees?
I only ask this question really because I think it is an absolutely fantastic idea. I felt so lost the entire game, and frequently do when the sport I’m watching doesn’t have an orange ball and hoop involved. But when the referees turned to the home-side bleachers and actually explained what was going on, it was music to my ears. Also, another noteworthy referee action was the throwing of the flags. Though it isn’t the same as the flag waving that goes on in AFL (which if you haven’t yet seen, you really ought to), I liked the added flair this gave the process. It is much more dramatic than carding someone.
I knew I couldn’t fully immerse myself in United States college life without attending a game of American football, and no better way than an overtime matchup. Overall, I thoroughly enjoyed my first-ever American football game, and cannot wait for the next home game, which won’t be until Oct. 1 when we play Butler.
Glad to say I have ticked this off the American college experience bucket list.