MUNICH, Germany — When I planned a summer trip to Germany, I didn’t know I’d land right in the middle of the country’s biggest sports story of the year.
Germany won the World Cup as I stood in a bier garten in Munich, watching it on a big screen, with a big crowd of chanting and singing Germans, most of whom were drinking from big mugs of beer.
Soccer is an obsession with many Germans. Being here for the championship was much more intense than any Super Bowl Sunday or Olympics I’ve experienced at home. The entire nation seemed to care deeply about the game.
I saw flags hanging from bedroom windows and cars roofs all week long. Store windows had special displays. And on Sunday night, streets all around the city were empty, except for the overflow crowds gathered outside bars and bier gartens, watching the game. After all, it was more than just a soccer match. National pride was at stake.
Leading up to the kickoff, I also saw some familiar things on German television.
Many of the same “big game” elements I’ve produced for American TV news were on full display. Stations had special World Cup sets, graphics and animations. They also seemed to have the same problem that U.S. stations have: how to fill time.
On the way to the bier garten, for instance, I passed a news crew doing MOS (man on the street) interviews.
My German is poor, but I imagine the reporter was asking questions like, “why did you come out tonight?” “Are you rooting for Germany?” and “what do you think of the crowds?” at the request of some poor newscast producer, forced to work on the night of the game and fill a show before the game began.
During the week, the news was filled with live shots from Brazil, often with the reporter standing in the dark because of the five-hour time difference.
Analysts spent time breaking down the players, players, and statistics. There were even fun features, like the one about a man who built a giant paper mache World Cup trophy, put it on top of his car, and drove it around town. This isn’t to say that other news didn’t exist. It just took a back seat to the story “everyone is talking about” — just like on many local newscasts in the U.S.
Finally, on a side note, I was wearing a Quinnipiac T-shirt during the game. The QU blue and gold were the closest thing I had in my suitcase to the German flag’s black, gold and red!