Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Swedish Sports Fill the Void

I love sports. Something about it really sucks me in. The competition. The team. The sweat. The emotion. It’s a beautiful thing. But I have been forced to get used to different sports in Sweden. Surprisingly, Stockholm isn’t a mecca of baseball. Or basketball. Or football. The real kind. But that’s ok. Because, while I don’t have the same options, I still have options. Handball. Bandy. Innebandy. Soccer. Hockey. Skiing. Hell, there’s even a decent amount of curling.

And it’s great. All these new sports. It’s really brought to my attention my lack of international sports knowledge though. I don’t know the rules when it comes to bandy. It looks like a cross between soccer and hockey and I’m pretty sure I’ve got the basics. But there’s no way I could explain the nuances of a bandy play as well as I could explain the idea behind the pick and roll. I don’t know the famous handball players. I don’t even know the famous soccer players.

And that became painfully obvious as I was watching TV4 Sport the other day. Because, as any good marketer will tell you, during sports shows you have a very specific target market. And so the ads tend to be sports related. And the sports ad I saw revealed my ignorance.

A commercial came on. For a betting agency. But it focused on soccer. Because in Sweden it seems that soccer and betting go hand in hand. But my soccer knowledge is limited. I know you can have 11 players on the field at one time. And that soccer players are horrible actors and pretend to be hurt all the time. That’s about it. So the man staring back at me telling me he had won numerous championships, named to the all-world team, all sorts of awards meant nothing to me.

Terry was the name on the back of the jersey. No idea. And then it hit me. This wouldn’t have happened to me in the US. I know famous athletes. I know what they have done. I know that if Derek Jeter was staring back at me telling me these things I would recognize him instantly.

But I’m getting better. I’m learning the Swedish stars. I’m figuring out who the important athletes are. And I’m also realizing just how much national pride the Swedes pin to their international athletes. It makes for some good sporting events. Even if it’s not the Super Bowl.


  1. I've seen that ad too. John Terry plays for England and Chelsea and he is an OK player, I guess, but pretty boring both in his playing style and personality. So you're forgotten for that... But please tell me you know who Zlatan Ibahimovic, Ronaldinho, Christiano Ronaldo, Ronaldo or Henke Larsson is? That's right, I'm a big football ("soccer") fan...

  2. I definitely know all of those names. Hell I can even name a few more. But I read the sports section of just about any newspaper I can get my hands on. Regardless of the sports being covered.

  3. I'm impressed, looks like you got the basics covered. :P Football is the greatest sport in the world if you ask me...

  4. Well... the basics. But I just can't get into it. I keep trying. Keep watching games. Keep watching important games. Watch games with people who know the sport. But I just can't do it. I almost feel like I need to apologize.

  5. Really? I think football is a lot funnier than American football and, yes I know the rules of both games... I think it's so much more flair, elegance, beauty, variation and excitement in football (I refuse to call it soccer;)...). Maybe it's just what you grew up with, though... For example, basket isn't that popular in Sweden but on the other handball is. Basket and handball are somewhat similar to each other - ball sports, team sports, you use your hands, pretty small "field" and the kind of the same tempo and stuff. Although football and football are very different, of course...

  6. That's true... I think a lot does depend on the sports you grow up. Because you're right, handball and basketball do have quite a few similarities. But I played soccer when I was little. It just bores me.

  7. I just don't get that it bores you... I mean, what's not to love?

    Btw. I said before that I knew the rules of American football which is giving myself too much credit, I only had one friend who likes the sport going through the rules for me kind of swiftly, like once or twice. So, I just got to ask - what's the difference between American football and rugby? Isn't it really the same sport, just that in rugby you can't pass backwards?

  8. I love soccer and our americans sports too!
    Hairy, i dont mind that you think soccer is boring I mean lets face it not every sport is for everyone.... but you better now tell me that you think baseball and golf are exhilariting :)
    Just for the record, I am a huge baseball and golf fan as well but lets be serious they can be dreadfully boring if you are someone that is just being introduced to the game.

    oh and Robban no hard feelings, but if John Terry is boring and average, sign me up to be boring and average! He's no Zlatan when it comes to excitement, but he's a world class defender and I dont mind when my defenders are maybe a little boring as long as they do the job

  9. No hard feelings...
    Yes, he's really good at defending but good defending isn't the reason why I love football so much (I think a lot of football fans worldwide recognize this). You're right, he does the job and well, you can't really criticize that but what's he got when it comes to attacking skills? I mean, some or many defenders are good at attacking as well and I love that. I think it's boring with someone who just "does the job" (no offense, though) and don't bring in some beauty, creativity and attacking will to the game. It don't take an as good player to break down the other team's game as it does to build up your own team's game. So, in my book he doesn't really deserve an own commercial, at least not when players like Ibra isn't even one of the 50 (something like that) nominees for the best player of the year. OK, I know I slipped away from the subject a bit in the end, there...

  10. oh football and rugby are so very different. you might have just insulted the entire country of England suggesting that rugby and football are the same sport. They do have similarities but are very different when it comes down to it. If you get a chance, watch a football game. Seasons over now but Im sure you can find some stuff. Or hey, just watch a nice football movie like Friday Night Lights. THat will give an idea about the game.

    I enjoy baseball. and playing gold. and I can appreciate that they do things I can only dream of doing. But they dont always raise my heartbeat and get the blood flowing.

    And keep up the John Terry debate. I'm learning.

  11. Or maybe 2 nations... yeah maybe I'll do that, I've seen some before but I didn't know all the rules so there were some stuff going on that I didn't really get...

    I agree with you on baseball. I mean, they're really good and that. Hey, I mean, it's really hard to do a homerun and to throw the ball that hard and stuff but when it comes down to it, it isn't really that entertaining. Neither has it got the excitement, as you mentioned, nor has it got the beauty. Football (the real kind ;):P) has got both and that's why I love it.

  12. see thats how I feel about my football. or hockey. or basketball. and thats the beauty of sports.