Thursday, April 11, 2024

Flying the Colors

I don’t spend a lot of time watching American football these days, though I do keep an eye out for my hometown Philadelphia Eagles. At this point it’s more of a geographic loyalty than an athletic loyalty, but the Birds have actually been pretty good the last few years and even when they weren’t good they were at least entertaining and I’ll take that.

Plus I live in the land of the Packers and you have to keep up with their fortunes if you plan to live in Wisconsin because otherwise nobody knows what to do with you.

Left to my own devices I’ll watch hockey or soccer, or even curling. But now and then football makes itself known to me and I’ll enjoy it on those occasions.

So it was with some interest that I noted an article yesterday describing how the Packers and the Eagles were going to play their first game this upcoming season in Brazil, of all places.

Now, I understand this. The NFL is trying to grow the game outside of the US, because a) the American market is pretty much saturated and all of the people who are going to become interested in football already are, and b) the sheer brutality of the sport is in the process of drying it up from the bottom, as more and more parents decide that they’d like their kids to reach middle age and still be able to put sentences together and so gently steer their offspring into less damaging activities such as sword swallowing or skydiving. The NFL needs to find new fans outside of the country, and they’ve been working on this for a while. They’ve played games in Europe for years now. They’re set to play in Mexico if they can ever get the stadium they picked to the point where it might actually be safe to play there. And now Brazil. Why not?

Except there’s a small problem.

The game will be played in Corinthians Arena, which is the home stadium of the appropriately named Corinthians, a Brazilian soccer team. Corinthians, it seems, are the bitter rivals of another Brazilian soccer team called Palmeiras, and as a result there is a fairly severe if still technically informal ban on the Palmeiras color in the stadium, to the point where Corinthians actually fined one of their players for wearing shoes of that color.

Palmeiras wears green.

I know.

I really, really wish I had been a fly on the wall during the meeting where the NFL bigwigs made this decision.


“Hey folks, we’d like to expand our market into Brazil. Any ideas for where we can put a game next season?

“Well, there’s this one stadium where they refuse to let anyone wear the color green because that’s their archrival’s color."

“Sounds ideal! What teams do you think we could get to play there?”

“How about the only two teams in the entire NFL whose uniforms are predominantly green?” *

“First of all, promoted. Second – get on that and make it happen right away.”

“You think we should have the teams wear their throwback uniforms instead?”

“Those ugly things? I suppose we could if we absolutely had to, though I don’t like it. What colors are they anyway?”

“Blue and yellow.”

“Don’t those make green?”

“Yeah, technically, but who’s gonna tell?”

“We can work with that. Which team has blue and which team has yellow?”

“Uh, they both have blue and yellow.”

“How will they tell each other apart?”

“Not our problem, is it?”

“Point taken. But what about the fans?”

“What about them?”

“Won’t they wear all of their Fan Gear?”

“Of course! We’ll even sell them more of it!”

"To whom? The Corinthians fans won't buy it and anyone who does will become a target."



"But the American fans will still wear the gear."

"Yes, they will. Again, for both teams. The whole stadium will be filled with people wearing green. They’ll be walking to the stadium wearing green. They’ll be tailgating wearing green. They’ll go barhopping or whatever it is one does in Brazil wearing green. They’ll be walking through the streets doing that loud obnoxious American thing wearing green.”


“You don’t think that’s a problem?”

“Why, are Latin American soccer fans known for being passionate about their teams and everything connected to them or something?”



“No, no, of course not. I’m sure it will all go smoothly and without causing any international incidents or military counterstrikes.”

“THAT’S the spirit!”


Not enough popcorn in the world.


* Apparently I forgot about the NY Jets. Most people do.

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