When this quick trip to St. Bart in the Caribbean was scheduled, I had given no thought to the possibility that the Saints would be hosting a playoff game on the night we arrived. We were bouncing on a ferry cutting through choppy water at the same moment that folks back home were bouncing around in excitement waiting for kickoff.
I had hoped that the bar at the elegant Guanahani Hotel might have one of those wide screen TVs with the game on it, but no TV and, most of all, no Americans. This is a French island and the French are different. There was a TV in our room but we could not get it to get past the in-house promotion on one channel. At our call, a hotel attendant came in pushed a button and there was a channel from France – another button – Italy – a third button and we started screaming, There on the screen were football players dressed in black and gold. The attendant was French so he did not understand what the excitement was about. We tried to explain “Les Saintes”, “Nouvelle Orleans!” He nodded politely and left.
From room service we ordered cheeseburgers (well there is some American influence here) and watched the game. The island is on Atlantic Time which means that the 7pm kickoff was at 9pm here; it was past midnight when the game ended but that did not matter. The Fox station that the hotel’s satellite picked up was from New York City. I made a point of sitting through that station’s post-game local newscast just to hear New York sports reporters talk about the Saints.
Next day I wore my Saints cap but to the French it was just another fleur-de-lis. To them, I probably looked like some sort of monarchist nostalgic for the Bourbon dynasty.
There was no one on the beach wearing black jerseys with number 25 on them; no one chanting, “Deuce” or “Deux.”
Last year the French had their Superbowl moment when their national team played Italy in the championship game of the World Cup. They lost in overtime but at least they got to experience the thrill we’re feeling, even if they don’t understand it.
As an aside, those who are wondering about the future of the Superdome should pay attention this week to Soldier Field in Chicago. Rather than move to a different location, a new stadium was built inside Soldier Field. That may be the model for the future of the dome.
What I have been reminded of during my brief vacation is that there are some people on this continent who are actually unaware of the New Orleans Saints. Maybe by the time this season is over, they all will be. Meanwhile next year I will know better than to plan a getaway in mid- January.
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