Bundesliga Style

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by Sam Winston

I had my second memorable European soccer experience yesterday; a packed barroom of Hamburg SV fans watching their boys take on the country's top club, Bayern Munich.

Having showed up an hour and half early to claim my barstool, which I had called in to reserve the day before, a few insights from a suspenseful 1-1 draw...

- It was oddly strange, having been here for only 6 months, how strongly I wanted Hamburg to win. When Hamburg scored first and the bar erupted, it was exhilarating. The announcer said (in German) "Ladies and Gentleman, that is Hamburg. Solid on defense. Patient. And powerful when their chances come."

- Bayern got their equalizer on a controversial play. The ball clearly went out off of Bayern (confirmed on the first replay), but the ball was awarded to Bayern. Two Hamburg players stopped, assuming it was theirs, and Bayern's quick re-start gave them numbers and an equalizing goal.

- I mention this blow-by-blow because I've scoured through the reports and highlights of the game and their's barely even a mention of the controversy (most papers skipped it altogether) even though the telecast highlighted it. The only mention came when the Hamburg coach said they deserved a tie and not a win because Bayern had many other chances they didn't capitalize on. I'm not sure if it's good or bad, but that would never happen in American sports

- There's no network broadcasts of the games most of the time because almost everything is on the season package thats about 20 euros on top of your cable bill. That's why most fans opt for the corner bars instead. It makes things a lot more social (and the need to reserve a barstool).

- Its goes without saying, but no commercials dominates. In the world of DVR/Tivo, US sporting events can be excruciating because of the commercials (and I'm a sports fan of all stripes). Money talks but I'm in on principle for the first major US sport to go more product placement/sponsorship and less/no commercials.

- I've been a soccer fan for quite some time, but it's damn exciting. Only the Germans and I disagree on when to cheer. They wait patiently only for the clear opportunities of advantage (or if you're a "houligan" you sing the entire time). I follow change of possession too passionately and hope for a spectacular individual play that's not likely to happen.

- Get GolTV if you want to watch from the States. I haven't talked to one person that's regretted it.

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