A taste of us sporting culture

Updated: 2013-02-05 02:10

By TANG ZHE (China Daily)

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A live Super Bowl broadcast, hundreds of fans, NFL players and cheerleaders, interactive games and an American buffet and beers provided authentic 'Super Sunday' experiences in Beijing and Shanghai on Monday.

To celebrate the NFL's crowning event, and further promote the league in China, NFL China held Super Bowl parties at the Kerry hotels in both cities.

The Beijing event was attended by current and former players Reggie Bush, Akin Ayodele and Jack Brewer.

Tickets to the Beijing Super Bowl party were sold out five days ahead of the celebration, and the ballroom was packed with fans well before the game kicked off at 7:30 am.

Supporters of the Baltimore Ravens and the San Francisco 49ers donned their team's jerseys and celebrated the occasion with family and friends.

"This is my first time taking part in such a large party in China to watch the Super Bowl," said Baltimore fan Steven McGirr, an American student at Tsinghua University.

"In America, it's always a great time for families to get together, you get chicken wings, you get beer, you watch your team," said the 25-year-old.

"Coming here in the morning and having breakfast, it's a totally different experience. It's great ... I'm really enjoying it."

With the game's increasing exposure in China, American football has also nurtured some hardcore local fans.

And the party in Beijing helped provide them with the opportunity to experience the atmosphere of a US Bowl party.

Wang Sha was among the Chinese contingent attending the event. The 28-year-old started watching the NFL in 2006, when CCTV broadcast the league. He began playing flag football, a less violent version of the game, at Beijing's Chaoyang Park in 2011 and has played in at least one game per week since.

"This is my first time watching the Super Bowl in such circumstances and the atmosphere is really cool," said Wang, who participated in the NFL Experience in Beijing last September.

However, the time difference between the US and China is a hindrance to the sport's growth here.

"NFL games normally kick off on Monday or Tuesday morning in China; a time when most Chinese people have to go to work," Wang said.

Ma Hui, who lived in the US for several years, agreed.

"The Super Bowl is a really important annual event in the US, but we in China have to get up so early to get here," she said.

"Today is a work day. I notice many fans here are in their working suits, and I have to think about work while watching the game.

"If the game was held on Friday evening or Saturday morning (China time), it would be a lot more fun," Ma said.

NFL China works with more than 19 regional TV broadcasters and digital media outlets in China to show games and other NFL content. Super Bowl XLVII was simulcast across three regional TV channels, four nationwide satellite broadcasters and streamed live on three major digital platforms.