Yes, that's not a typo, I woke my ass up at 5:45am this morning in order to see the Super Bowl. Given the nasty time difference, the 6:30pm EST kick-off was 7:30am here in Hong Kong. Given the timing I normally would have forsaken seeing the Super Bowl since I'm not a huge sports fan, and I'm an even lesser fan of early mornings. However, given it was the Bears I felt obligated to show some Chicago pride here in the South China Sea. I didn't have any Bears gear, so I Chicagoed up by wearing my Cubs cap and Chicago GSB T-Shirt.
Our destination was a Super Bowl party being hosted by the American Chamber of Commerce here in HK at a bar in Lan Kwai Fong that another American exchange student found out about. A number of us went, including some of the Germans and French students. Here's how early it was, LKF was deserted:
The weirdness began the minute we walked in. Given the hour, the food spread consisted of your favorite breakfast foods and the beverages of choice was coffee and OJ. Not your normal Super Bowl party spread. There was some beer, but you had to wait until 8 or 8:30 given the liquor laws here. . . Not that anybody was too eager to booze it up, especially since most of the crowd had to go to work after the game. As students though, we had no such constraints:
Not that we drank that much, I had the equivilent of one pint. I drank much more coffee, so much that somebody said "You really are an addict."
Another difference was that we received the international feed on ESPN Asia, so no Super Bowl ads!!!!! I never realized how important they are to enjoying the game until they weren't there. Also, when there are no ads you begin to realize how many commercial breaks there are in football. I guess ESPN Asia couldn't sell any super bowl ads, because during breaks for US ads we kept seeing the same promos for other ESPN Asia sports programming: Rugby, Soccer, SportsCenter, etc, on an infinite loop. The only paid ad I saw was for AsiaExpat.com . . . Amazing to consider that in the states 30 seconds go for $2MM, and here they can't sell any time.
Plus the commentary was different, a lot more educational. As in "10 yards equals another 1st down for the team with possession." "Let us explain how both teams arrived here," and then proceeded to explain the playoff system.
However, that commentary was better then the Chamber of Commerce's emcee who wouldn't shut-up. There were prizes for trivia and he used it as an excuse to constantly talk. Imagine some middle-aged meathead blowhard getting control of a microphone and living out his dream of being a sportscaster on a captive audience. BTW did you know the turf make-up of Dolphin stadium? Well I found out because his company, for which he is regional VP, made the turf for the game. See what I mean? Plus, when he found out that there were non-Americans in the crowd he took the opportunity to say we were watching real football and how it was infinitely better than rugby and cricket and soccer. . . Way to show some hospitality!
All in all, I had a fun time, depsite the Bears loss which was extremely painful, but without Doritos, beer, and Bud Light ads it wasn't a Super Bowl party. Plus, I'm missing out on the civic grieving, which, I learned after the 2003 Cubs debacle, is an important part of the healing process.
HK's western facade can lull you into a sense of being close to home, this morning reminded me of how far away I really am.