Over the past few weeks, we’ve connected with some MAF missionaries to find out how they follow their football teams from the field as part of a three-part series on the subject. Last week, we shared the answers from some college football fans. This week, we’re sharing the answers from NFL fans – Dan Whitehead (Vikings), Fran Durocher (Packers), Dave Holsten (Broncos), and Brad Hopkins (Colts).
Q: There’s the idea when it comes to missions that missionaries have to give up many of the things they love. How hard was it to know that it wouldn’t be so easy to follow your favorite football team each week?
Fran: It was more difficult to know that no one really played the game of American football – so that was actually more difficult than not seeing the games for me. I loved just playing – either organized or just pick up.
Brad: Football was something that I looked forward to each week, but I’ve learned that, like so many other things in life, once I adjusted it was fine. You end up finding things that you like to do here, like more family time, walks in the neighborhood, etc.
Dave: Honestly, of the things I “gave up”, football was probably one of the more inconsequential ones. When we first left I didn’t really think a whole lot about missing out on football. Once I was overseas, the thing that I’ve come to miss is more the ambiance that surrounds watching a big game with fellow fans.
Q: What are some creative ways that you follow your team from the field?
Dan: In the past, friends sent me VHS tapes of big games. In recent years, it has become possible to watch games on satellite TV. And as the speed of the Internet has increased, that is another source of following sports. But the NFL and Major League Baseball are not that popular where we live, so TV providers don’t put those games on much.
Fran: Some special friends have satellite TV, and on the “big” games, like the Super Bowl, we either have them taped or watch them live at 3 or 4 a.m.!
Dave: Internet is for sure the biggest game changer in staying up on interests back in the States. Streaming video and audio are usually pretty sketchy, so I end up reading articles more than anything. I will occasionally download podcast from ESPN to keep on top of the latest stuff. One of our fellow missionaries had a VCR that could record a PAL signal, so they would record the game and then reshow it at their house on Monday night. When it came to the Super Bowl, though, I tried to work my schedule so that I could be at the house to watch it live on Monday morning.
Brad: Since we have a 12-hour time zone difference, it’s hard to watch anything live. But one thing we’ve done is have someone with a TV subscription that showed Monday night football (on Tuesday morning) to tape it for us. We wouldn’t look at the score that day, and then at night we would go over to their house for Tuesday night football. They would make popcorn and brownies and we would have a great time … and we could fast-forward through the commercials!
Q: What is one of your most memorable moments following your team from the field?
Brad: My most memorable moment came when the Colts were playing in Super Bowl 41 against the Bears (2006). It was a very close game early in the third quarter. But it just happened that my mother was coming to visit us and had just flown half way around the world. Her plane was scheduled to land in the middle of the third quarter, so I had to leave the TV to go pick her up. The plane was late and I never saw the rest of the game. But I was really happy to see my mom. I hadn’t seen her in two years, so that was definitely more important!
Dan: It usually doesn’t involve my favorite team, but there have been several memorable Super Bowl parties, sometimes watching a taped game later and trying hard not to hear what the final score was before we got a chance to watch it.
Fran: Watching the Packers in 2010 on a taped game … but had to avoid all Internet and news until I could see the taped game – and they won of course.
Dave: We had other people on our team over to our house on Monday morning for a Super Bowl breakfast, and then watched the game. I’ve gotten up at all sorts of unreasonable hours to watch pro golf or World Cup coverage.
Q: What game are you most looking forward to this year with your team and how do you plan to follow that particular one?
Dan: After seeing the Viking’s first game this year, I’m not sure there is much to look forward to.
Fran: The Super Bowl in January – either live or taped. You do promise Green Bay will be there right?
Brad: I don’t know. I usually just read about it afterwards now. TV here doesn’t carry much American football (recently it’s been less than before) so I haven’t seen an entire football game in years. I still enjoy it when I get to, but it’s just one of those things I have had to give up to be here. Somebody usually has a Super Bowl party so that’s always fun. The problem is it’s on Monday morning here, so we do it up right with a fancy breakfast. You just have to think outside the box, and anything can be fun.
Dave: I’m on furlough at the moment, so I went out to a sports restaurant with my brother and our two boys to watch the Broncos first game (they lost), but we had a great time together.