A Frenchman’s first American football game – Sooners v. ULM
NORMAN, Okla. – Finally after more than a year and a half of living in Norman, I got the chance to enjoy a legendary OU football game with my wife (thank you to an American friend)!
Even if for me as a Frenchman it doesn’t have the same meaning, I could feel how important a football game is, and how exciting it is for a large majority of Oklahomans.
My only experience of a football game prior was watching the last Super Bowl and honestly I didn’t really like it, mainly because I didn’t understand it. And at the end, I was wondering if people were watching the football game or the commercials.
So, the day arrived and before going to the game, Americans have another tradition – tailgating! What an amazing tradition. Contrary at what we though first, tailgating has nothing to do with a picnic. It is more about being close to the stadium with tents, tables, chairs, massive barbecues, televisions and mini fridges to enjoy the two main American meals – hot dogs and burgers!
The Pride of Oklahoma Marching Band playing at the pre-football game on Sept. 10.
After eating more than enough it was time to go to the newly renovated Gaylord Family-Oklahoma Memorial Stadium celebrating its new south tribune, totally surrounding the stadium for the first time in its history.
We were sitting on the west side in section 105. The view inside was amazing, totally covered in red. What seemed like a record breaking 87,037 attendees were present. You have to understand that this stadium is bigger than the largest stadium in France which has a capacity of 81,500!
Then the best part started, the parade with the Pride of Oklahoma Marching Band with its music and perfect choreography, followed later by the cheerleaders. To conclude the show just after the pregame show five World War II, T-6 Texan aircraft flew above the stadium. Amazing how everyone knows every song and hymns.
There is no doubt about it, Americans have a strong sense of live performance.
The new south tribune and Screen TV at the Gaylord Family-Oklahoma Memorial Stadium.
And OOOOOOOOO U! The game started, difficult to understand, everything is going very fast, I am trying to follow the ball, wait where is OU’s team? Oh, OK the red uniforms are OU, the white uniforms are ULM (University Louisiana-Monroe).
OK, now I know my team, but still, I can’t find the player with the ball and then touchdown!!! Followed by two fireworks! Stand up to the great excitement in the stadium – that was crazy!
Then the game starts again. Fifteen minutes passed on my watch, but only five minutes on the stadium’s screen. That is the tricky part of the game; the space-time is going much slower.
Fortunately, after four touchdowns the Sooners led the game by 42 to zero at the end of the second quarter.
Panoramic view of the Gaylord Family-Oklahoma Memorial Stadium at the halftime break.
The Pride’s halftime show included playing famous songs by Elvis Presley and Michael Jackson. Again, great show.
Immediately after, we decided to buy some snacks, but almost everywhere were out of stock.
We finally bought two hot dogs, just bread with one sausage, for $5 each! I will not write a food review on it because it only deserves one Rusty on the scale of zero to five.
The two last quarters were pretty similar even if ULM started to play better. Gradually people started to leave the stadium and at the beginning of the last quarter the stadium was already half-empty.
Olivier Rey and his wife at the OU football game on Sept. 10.
This was strange for me, I don’t know if it is because the Sooners were largely leading the game or because the night was fresh. In Europe, people like to stay until the end of the game especially when your team wins; it is the best part to celebrate the victory.
We were just a few hundred to listen to the short Pride concert just after the game.
It was a very great experience, even if it was long (more than 3 hours and 30 minutes), I don’t know if I will do it again, maybe for a big game.
From a French viewpoint, it doesn’t seem like the players are playing a lot. There are a lot of breaks, sometimes the timer is running even when players don’t play and also they substitute players several times during the game!
However, you have a great show from the beginning until the end – Pride, cheerleaders, fireworks, TV animations throughout the game and a great atmosphere. This is more than a sport, this is a show!
Photos by, or provided by Red Dirt Report’s Olivier Rey.