Last Friday night, Nathan and I along with our friends the Brinlees, were able to attend the Austrian American Football Championship in Wolfsberg, aka Austrian Bowl XXIV. This past fall I had the opportunity to go to a regular season Cowboys game at Texas Stadium. The two events were night and day different. For starters, the Dallas game had more than 15 times the amount of attendees as the Austrian Championship. It didn't help that the game fell between the semi-finals and Championship game of the European Football (soccer) Championship which was co-costed by Austria. I don't know that there would have been a huge difference otherwise, though. Another noticeable difference was the cost of tickets. I paid around $70 for near nosebleeds in Dallas. Here I paid 15 Euro (about $24) and because it was free seating (as opposed to having assigned seats), we sat in the first row on the 40 yard line. And because Nathan was under six he did not have to have a ticket. Another thing; at the Dallas game I had to pay about $20 for parking and then had to walk 15 minutes to the Stadium. In Austria I parked for free and was in the stadium about a minute after getting out of the car. Also the play-by-play commentary suggested that the Austrian fans were not as informed about the rules and game play. That is understandable, however. American football is still catching on here. It would probably be comparable to the popularity of soccer (regular football as Nathan calls it) in the States.
All in all though, it was the same game. There were two opponents each wanting desperately to defeat the other, their respective fans with the same desire. In fact the Austrian fans were undeniably louder than American fans per capita. The supporters of the opposing teams sat on opposite sides of the Grandstand and constantly cheered and jeered back and forth at each other throughout the game. Many brought with them musical instruments (which the played as loudly as possible), air horns, and other noise makers. My ears were ringing as I walked out of the stadium. Despite throwing 4 interceptions in the game, the Turek Graz Giants' (our home team) quarterback, Chris Gunn, was able to lead his team to a 31-21 victory over the Swarco Raiders of Tirol. There was plenty of excitement in the game including long bombs, break away runs, and hard hitting collisions. I was a lot of fun! Nathan seemed to enjoy being there as well, though he spent more time playing with his buddies than focusing on the game. In the end, it was great guys night out and it didn't hurt that our team won the Championship!