When you travel the world, and spend times in a pub, you often learn that sports fanaticism looks very different in other countries. You might be rabidly obsessed with Ohio State football, but there's a guy in a pub in Ireland, who's losing his ever-loving mind right now about a game that you've never even heard of.
I can say that because I've been in a pub in Ireland where there was an incomprehensible game on some kind of sport on TV and everyone was staring in rapt attention, and, well, it made no sense. A really nice drunky-drunk guy next to me (pictured below, and this was Ireland, remember?) tried to explain the rules to me, but it still made no sense.
One game that's relatively accessible to Americans, though, is soccer. Hell, your kids are probably playing it right now. So, you know that everyone else calls it football, and they all crap their pants over it in Europe, South America, Africa, and...well...okay, everywhere.
When we were traveling through Norway, we had taken a train from Oslo to Ålesund, about midway up the coast. From there, we planned to board a boat for a slow cruise down, through the fjords, where we'd ultimately wind up in Bergen. Ålesund isn't a very big town, however, and though it was completely charming to explore at a leisurely pace, we found ourselves maxed out on travel by the time dinner rolled around, and our boat wasn't leaving until midnight.
So, we found a pub near the dock, and figured we'd just bide our time by nursing a beer or four. At first, we were the only ones there. But then, as we sat there, we noticed that people started filtering into the pub. And then, people started streaming into the pub. And it just so happened that we had a prime seat for a football match-off between the national teams of Norway and Denmark. And that, ladies and gentlemen, is a rivalry of epic proportions.
We had a great time. Even with nothing invested in the game, we had a terrific time watching it on the televisions scattered throughout the bar. And we had an even better time watching the locals who'd assembled to watch the game.
I can't tell you who won or lost, but I can tell you that we made our boat in time for departure, and with a slight beer buzz, we both slept very peacefully on the boat, so that we were well-rested for all of the gorgeous scenery the next day.