When I started The Lions in Winter, I had three goals. In no particular order, they were: to rekindle my love affair with the written word, to harness the hours I waste on football Internetting and create something worthwhile, and to build a place where loyal Lions fans from every walk of life can gather, share, and talk football without shame. On the way, I hoped to discover exactly what it is about sports, what it is about fandom, that keeps us coming back for more, over and over and over.
From the very beginning, I've received a lot of traffic from non-American visitors. Most come from our fair neighbor to the North (or East, or South, depending on where in Michigan you start from, and where in Canada you finish), but I also have frequent visitors from Sweden, Australia, Germany, France, China, Finland, Afghanistan, Chile . . . at least a visit or two every month from nearly every industrialized nation.
Last night, I noticed some traffic from an odd link: http://liondo.blog20.fc2.com/blog-entry-503.html. I followed it to a Japanese Lions blog! To my astonishment, the site is a true Detroit Lions weblog; frequently updated with legit, up-to-the-minute analysis—and it’s well-read, with active commenters. With a little help from an old friend, the Babelfish translator, I read the site's "about me"-type-section:
This [burogu] NFL (national [hutsutoborurigu]) is Detroit Lions [huanburogu]. Basically to the last in the negative, it is the intention in addition of having supported cynically, but way there are also times when excessive expectation starts overflowing. 拙 To be, doing the meaning of the local media by English ability, because it increases, please and so on be wrong and pardon please.
Wow. "Basically to the last in the negative, it is the intention in addition of having supported cynically, but way there are also times when excessive expectation starts overflowing." That pretty much nails it right there, doesn't it? Despite our jaded, cynical feelings from years of futility, every summer we overflow with excessive expectations.
This author reads all of the Detroit beat writers, same as we do, and blogs about everything that's happening, same as we do. Despite thousands of miles, and a yawning chasm of a culture gap, in between us, the author and his readers are right on top of all the latest info. The title of the site is awesome, too: "Roar of the Lion - Detroit Lions Fanblog: NFL Detroit Lions the Page Which is Supported Selfishly From the Far East." The latest post discusses the details of the Rob Sims trade:
As for [shimuzu] with the Ohio state Ooide body 26 years old of 4th year. In 4 years it started in advance in the total 34 tournament, but HC of [shihokusu] alternates to the peat carol, it was seen that by the fact that in zone block it becomes modification it is outside war potential.
The translator really struggles with some of this, but you get the gist: Sims has started 34 games in his first four years--but with the head coach of the Seahawks now being Pete Carroll, the switch to the zone blocking scheme is outside of Sims' war potential.
"War potential." I like it.
The author goes on to note that the Lions are in position to take the best player available at the 1.2 spot:
Lions at 2 rank becomes to designate who among 3 of sou, [matsukoi] and [okun] with BPA, probably will be? After don't you think? it becomes that leader position has appraised who high. Probability of [okun] went down extremely.
Right! It comes down to Suh, McCoy, or Okung, and the Lions will take the one who they consider the best available--and by swinging a trade for a young veteran left guard, the probability that the Lions take Okung has gone down extremely.
I frequently receive email from displaced Lions fans, folks who’ve moved to Minnesota or California or wherever. I love that the Internet keeps them informed, and connected to the fan community, like they never left. Sometimes I even talk to folks across the country who decided to root for the Lions because of Barry, because their team moved, or because they just want to see perennial losers turn it around.
I knew that the NFL’s European league had turned a lot of folks over there on to “gridiron”, as they call it. I further knew, from watching the last World Cup of American Football, that football is a popular high school sport in Japan, and has been since the war. However, it didn’t click with me that all those overseas football fans could pick a team, and as long as they understand English, follow those teams like a native.
It’s fascinating to me. I follow the Lions because I can’t not; it’s something I’ve done my whole life, almost instinctually. I literally cannot remember a time when I was not a huge Lions fan. Like many, if I didn’t have a lifetime of personal identity and childhood memories wrapped up in this team, I probably wouldn’t have bothered to keep following them throughout the past decade.
This cuts to the very heart of what I’m trying to understand. How could someone could reach adulthood, then choose to follow the Lions—of all teams!—the way I do? How could someone from an entirely different nation, entirely different culture, choose the Lions to cheer for, and then wrap themselves up in it as if they were born to it?
I don’t know—but I think it’s really, really, really cool.
To that end, I've included a little widget over on the right sidebar for our international Lions-fan brothers and sisters:
Though our friends at Roar of the Lion - Detroit Lions Fanblog understand English perfectly well, I hope the Babelfish will allow everyone else—wherever they may be—to be part of the international Lions fan community. So: no matter how far the journey, no matter what your native tongue, come on over. I’ve got plenty of hot cider, and plenty of room around the Honolulu Blue bonfire. Sit alongside the rest of us, folks, and take off your coat. Warm your hands, warm your hearts, share your stories, and root for the Detroit Lions right along with everyone else.