Given the name of our family travel blog, it will come as no surprise that we follow American football, especially the Green Bay Packers. For Eli, this interest is quite long-standing; he was introduced to the Packers by our friends Trish and Melanie, who decked him out in green and gold before he could throw a football. And to say that his friends back home share his interest is a huge understatement; it’s their major topic of conversation, and American football rules the school playground. The rest of our family got interested in football just last year, as the underdog Packers fought their way to the Super Bowl. We can now look past the violence (most of the time) to see the tremendous athleticism involved in the sport.  Our old friends (from before we lived in Madison) still can’t believe that we even watch the game, let alone care who wins! But it’s been a fun way to connect with people in Wisconsin.

One of Eli’s worries about moving to Rome was whether he’d still be able to watch the Packers – and also the Wisconsin Badgers – given that American football is not generally screened outside the USA. Our landlords kindly installed a TV in the living room equipped with SKY, which is the satellite TV system here. There are about 30 channels showing soccer at all times, which has been fun – we’ve been trying to watch the AS Roma games, and we can hear the fans screaming outside and can see the fireworks above the stadium when they win!

SKY TV also carries ESPN America, which shows rebroadcasts and occasional live sports events from the USA. Their choice of programming seems a little random; for example, the big game between Wisconsin and Nebraska last Saturday was not broadcast at all. But they seem to always carry Packers games – perhaps because they won the Super Bowl last year! And the games tend to come on around 3 AM on Sunday night/Monday morning.

So Eli came up with the idea for “Packers Lunedi” (Monday). My job is to try to make sure that the satellite TV is programmed to record the Packers game on Sunday night, whenever it is on. This is no simple feat, given that the system is in Italian, and the timetable doesn’t ever quite match the actual broadcast time. So we usually miss the beginning or end of the game. Nevertheless, after the kids come home from school on Mondays and have finished their homework, we do something that is incredibly American and that we rarely do back home in Madison – we have dinner in front of the TV and watch the recorded Packer game. It’s funny to be dining on exquisite fresh pasta while yelling words of encouragement to Aaron Rogers, and sipping local Lazio wine instead of Wisconsin beer. But it’s a nice slice of home and the kids love it.

Our challenge is that we have to make sure we don’t find out who won for a full day after the game. That means no checking Facebook, no reading Madison.com, and even no viewing of the New York Times online on Mondays. Eli won’t check his email until after he watches the game because that is what his friends usually write about. But it’s worth the media blackout to have some suspense. Though so far, at least, there’s not much suspense to be had! The outcomes of the AS Roma soccer games have been far more variable. And that is what Eli talks about with his new friends at school!

– Jenny

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