Monday, February 1, 2010

It's a funny old game

Here is a little segment from Stephen Fry in America, a BBC series filmed in 2007. Over the course of several months Fry traveled to each of the country's fifty states and shot footage that would give Britons a taste of the vastness, exuberance, and variety of American life. Naturally, on his trip to Alabama he attended the Iron Bowl.

This is Fry attempting to capture the mystique of college football for the benefit of the utterly uninitiated. Thinking about the college game for life-long fans who were born into the American collegiate culture is somewhat like trying to relive the first time you watched Star Wars. You never really can recapture that shocking moment when without warning you learned that, gasp!, Darth is Luke's... FATHER?!

Life afforded me the privilege of discovering this unique and wonderful game, and [more importantly] the sub-culture that surrounds it, as a fully self-conscious adult. The date was September 6th 2003, the location Tuscaloosa, Alabama, and the visitor number one Oklahoma. I had never been in a crowd of 85,000 before. Growing up on English soccer I was not unfamiliar with rabid sports fans. Indeed, I had long been one myself. But a stadium the size of a space-ship filled to bursting point for a game played between unpaid, amateur college students? That's something. The 15,000 RVs parked all weekend in every spare piece of real estate the city can afford, that's something else entirely.

No one was filming me and I didn't have a script. But had I done so, this is probably what I would have said. Though, of course, I would not have been holding one of those ghastly orange and blue shakers.

Roll Tide, Stephen.


  1. I've got to be honest: there's something like disdain in the way that Fry speaks. Like he is kind of impressed, but it's against his better judgment.

  2. Well, that's pretty much how everyone at the BBC talks about everything American all the time. It's because they're all so very clever, don't you know.