“Is that the New England game?”
“Yes, it is.”
“Good, I hate them so much!”
That conversation was repeated about four or five times as I attempted to watch the Patriots/Steelers game on December 9th. Each time I would politely nod, and motion to my well-worn Super Bowl XXXVI Championship T-Shirt. The response was usually the same, a slight sigh, with a mumble about how they sure hoped the Steelers would win.
We were currently in one of the two television rooms at the Maroma Beach Resort on the Riviera Maya in Mexico. It was the second day of our vacation, one that partly a working one for my wife, who is in the travel business and was writing a magazine article about the resorts in the area.
It was the second day of our trip, and I had made it clear that I really wanted to do what I could to see this game. We had left on Saturday morning, so I knew all the buildup to this game – the Anthony Smith guarantee, the comments about the Patriots wide receivers not being as good as the Bengals, and I was anxious to see how the team would respond. Surprisingly (though not really, as I have the best wife in the world) my wife didn’t have a problem with that, even though we were on a tropical vacation. She herself was interested in the outcome of the game.
I had tried to prepare as best I could for the possibility of there being no place to see the game. Before leaving, I had even pulled out my old wireless-equipped iPaq Pocket PC and loaded Slingbox Mobile on it, just in case the only option was over the internet.
When we arrived at this resort, shortly before 3:00pm (They’re an hour behind us) one of the things our host told us was that as part of the experience, there were no televisions in the rooms. That gave me a panic for a moment, but I remembered in checking out the resort web site that each room had high-speed internet (strange, huh?) but I didn’t know if it was wireless or not.
In our introductory tour, we were shown the first TV room. Peeking in, I saw a bunch of guys watching the Eagles/Giants game on a 42 inch LCD. I heard some New York accents and saw my chances of watching the Patriots seemingly shrinking away by the moment. The tour continued, through the restaurant (no TV at the bar!) and through some of the room areas. Then we came across the second TV room. It was unoccupied!
Or room wasn’t quite ready yet, so we were asked if we wanted to get some lunch while they got the room ready. I glanced at my wife, who smiled. She asked “Can we get it brought in here?” (Have I mentioned how awesome she is?) The hostess said certainly, and they went to get some menus. I set to the task of trying to find this game…which I still wasn’t sure I was going to be able to find.
The satellite TV provider in that area is SKY. There was no remote in the room, so I had to change channels sitting on the floor in front if this 42 inch LCD and hitting the channel up button,having no idea if I was getting closer or not. I started in the 200 channel level, and made it all the way up to the 500 level before I starting finding some sports, then I flicked again, and saw the black and gold of the Steelers uniforms. I had found the game. There was still about 11 minutes remaining in the first quarter and Pittsburgh had the ball.
Right after I found the game, two young women stuck their heads in the door and asked “Are you watching the game?” I replied in the affirmative, and they said “Cool” and went off.
Our food arrived, and we sat down to watch and eat. Eventually the two women came back, with their own food, and watched as well. When the Steelers kicked their field goal to go up 3-0, there was a little squeal. We inquired as to their loyalties, asking if they were Steelers fans. One of them responded, “Not so much Steelers fans, as much as anti-New England.” she tried to explain: “I grew up just outside New York, and then went to school in Boston, so I’ve developed a hatred for their teams.”
None of us could understand the commentary on the game, as it was it Spanish. The graphics were from CBS, but overlayed in the corners were FOX Sports logos. The game was being carried on FOX Sports International, but was using the CBS feed and their own announcers. It was just as well. It was actually nice to just watch the game and draw my own conclusions about what was happened and what was going to come up next.
It was probably just paranoia, but I kept getting the impression that the announcers were biased towards the Steelers. I think it was the excited “WHIIILLEEEE” cry each time Willie Parker had a decent run, or the “BEEEEG BENNN” when Roethlisberger made a completion. The Patriots long plays barely seemed to get a reaction.
As the game went on, people occasionally stuck their heads in the door to find out the score, and the conversation at the beginning of the article took place several times. One guy, clearly a Steelers fan, hung around for a little bit excited that they were only down four points. He tried to elicit support for his Steelers in the room, but with little success.
I should note that the the two women left and came back a few times. When Brady threw the 63 yard TD to Moss, my wife and I were (of course) alone in the room.
As the Patriots pulled ahead in the second half, the visitors waned, usually just looking in to see the score and shaking their heads. When the Brady to Moss to Brady to Gaffney play happened, I was by myself. Our room was ready and my wife went to check it out. The two biggest plays of the game, and there was no one else around to enjoy (or anguish over) them.
By the time the fourth quarter was winding down, the room was completely empty.
That was it. No post game interviews. No “Fifth Quarter” Not even the Mike Reiss updates on the computer to pour over. We simply went on to enjoy the rest of our vacation.
We missed the Jets game. We were supposed to fly JetBlue on Sunday afternoon, which meant I likely would’ve been able to watch the game on their DirecTV service (parts of it anyway) but with the flight canceled, we went to visit another resort. They had TV’s in the room, but the Patriots weren’t on. The Steelers/Jaguars game was being shown, with the same announcers. More excited cries over Parker and Roethlisberger were heard throughout the afternoon. Until of course, the Steelers lost. Again.