Having grown up in Colorado, I have always been a Denver Broncos football fan. Marcie and I have lived in a few places other than Bronco Land in our pre-cruising lives, but I could never get excited about the local teams. I wasn't as fanatical as some Denver fans – but, it's always been the Broncos for me.
Following the Broncos, however, has been a real trial during the last 15 years. When internet is expensive, slow, or non-existent, or Nine of Cups is in the middle of the Indian Ocean on a long passage, or our clocks are upside down and the game doesn't start until 2 am local time, catching even the score of the latest game, let alone a few game highlights, is difficult. Luckily, our youngest son, Brad, is a more devoted fan than I am and can be depended upon to send me a synopsis of the game via email. Not quite like watching, but better than nothing. I confess that in some years, had it not been for Brad, I'd have totally forgotten it was even football season.
A couple of weeks ago, however, we found ourselves in Georgetown, Guyana, in an air-conditioned hotel room with free high speed internet on a Sunday during football season. Our time zone was not so different than Denver time, and the Broncos were playing – OMG - the Boston Patriots! Was this the beginning of a new harmonic convergence? A grand trine? How lucky could I be? Even if it didn't start until 9:30 pm local time, I was up for it.
The only way to 'watch' the game in most other countries is via the internet. Other than the Superbowl, I don't remember ever being in a place in which we could literally watch a Broncos game on TV. Many countries have sports bars with a multitude of TV screens scattered around showing all the favorite sporting events, but rarely does American football make the cut. If you're interested in the local soccer, rugby or cricket game, you're all set, but no NFL games. I guess that's only reasonable – how many people in Denver would stay up till the wee hours to watch the Collingwood Magpies play the Sydney Swans in the Australian Football League?
Usually the internet has been too slow or we were paying by the byte, making it far too expensive to try to stream that much data. Instead, we tried to listen to the game on internet radio. In the past, we could listen to KOA radio in Denver and catch the live broadcast. Then, in the post season three years ago, I had rearranged my day, so that I could listen to a Broncos playoff game, Marcie had popped a big bowl of popcorn and I was all primed for the game when I discovered the NFL no longer allowed internet broadcasts of the playoff games. Last year, this extended to the regular season games, and I couldn't find a way to listen to any of the games.
Sure, I could buy an “NFL Season Pass” which would allow me to listen to the game broadcasts, but it is expensive, and we haven't been (and probably won't be) in many places this season that had reasonable internet. I certainly wasn't going to buy the package, so I could watch one game, even if it was the Broncos-Patriots game.
I did find a site that displayed the play-by-play action via a cryptic line of text. Every thirty seconds or so (longer if a timeout was called or a commercial ad was running), a message like “2-10-Den 38 (4:15) 23-R.Hillman left tackle to DEN 42 for 4 yards (97 – A.Branch)” would appear on the screen. It's hard to get excited 'watching' this way. No KOA radio team with color commentary and enthusiastic play-by-play action - no instant replays - no crowd noise... but it was a lot better than nothing.
For the first half, I followed the game while working on a few other things. During the third quarter, I time-shared between play updates and reading on my iPad. During the fourth quarter, and then overtime, I was pretty much glued to the game, waiting patiently for the next play update, cursing the longer delays while a commercial ran. Marcie had long since gone to sleep. It's really hard doing my cheering silently and my fist-pumps and touchdown dances without actually moving, but I managed without waking her. It was a great game, especially since Denver squeaked out the win.
So, soon we'll be in Trinidad. Internet is slow and expensive, and whoever the Broncos are playing, it probably won't be as exciting as the Patriots game. On the other hand, every game is important for the Broncos between now and the playoffs. Maybe I'll just watch a little of it...