Football in Alaska

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To know me is to know that I am a football fan.  Have been my whole life.   As far as I can tell, though, many red blooded Americans are football fans and Alaskans are no different.  In all the blogging on what makes Alaska so unique, it’s surprising that I haven’t touched on how different it is to be a football fan in Alaska.  The big difference is time zones.

For you wierdos who don’t know – pro football follows a usual Sunday pattern, with games starting at 1PM, 4:30-ishPM, and 8PM Eastern Time; making for most of my life the game to be a nice Sunday afternoon experience.  Except for when I was a kid where I would be able to sleep in until 10 or 11, football Sundays have meant that I would find things to do before game time, and then have the afternoon for the TV.  Now move that time zone 4 hours west, and you start to get the feeling of what the game is like here.  My team, the Green Bay Packers, mostly play the early game (though not today).  It feels like I am kid again.  I sleep in until 8AM, shuffle out to grab some coffee and Crunch Berries, get the dog fed and “exercised”, then we cuddle up and watch the game starting at 9AM.   One of the guys at the curling club was teasing me last night that I would likely be in Green Bay Pajamas watching the game, but to be honest, he isn’t far off.

Morning football Sundays are the way of life.  It’s simple to be a die-hard here, and many get their ‘insane football fan’ easily.  Many sports bars open for breakfast (though they don’t start serving beer until noon).  Some places have limited seating, specifically the Peanut Farm, so to get a good seat for the game you need to show up at 7 or 8AM.  Sometimes, I’ll roll into a place for dinner and there will be people in the 10th hour of watching in a place.  That being said, there isn’t a consistent fan base up here.  Many follow the Seattle Seahawks, but I wonder if it is bandwagon grabbers over  true fans.  The mid-western influence means there are a fair bit of Packer fans; with rumors of a bar being the local fan club watching location.  One place touts itself as the Minnesota Viking’s watching location (which if you know how bad that is must mean they are pretty die-hard).  Texas teams get some following, and San Francisco too; but seems there are fans of everyone here.

College football can be weirder.  Those games can start up at 8AM, and they can run until 10PM.  Sometimes games are turning to night on the east coast, and I haven’t even gotten out of the house yet.

To me, the most interesting thing about football in Alaska, isn’t the stuff on the TV — but High School Football.  Put simply, there isn’t many teams in the state.  Many of the schools don’t even have enough students to form a team; but schools in bigger towns can be a bit more competitive.  With the heavy amount of military people in Alaska, players can have a huge range of talent, and can come and go year to year – for the most part, however, it isn’t the caliber of many of the Lower 48 states.  But you fans of High School football, here is a fun fact … It’s over for the season!  There are three divisions, small, medium, and large (no seriously, that is their names).  The Small Schools championship was awarded last week to Nikiski last week in the first State Championship in the country.  On Saturday, Soldotna upset Juneau in a track-meet of a 56-49 game to win the Medium School division, and in the Large School division the rising powerhouse Anchorage West defeated the consistent top team Anchorage Service in a tight, tough 28-16 game.  While other states haven’t’ even started their playoffs, the schools here beat the snows to get the whole season in.  Games start before school begins here, just to make it happen.

It’s different begin a football fan here, but you still can be.

Now if you don’t mind, it’s halftime of the early game … and like I used to do when I was in highschool, it’s time to have a shower.

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