Living in Göttingen for almost a month now there are still many aspects of the city, as well as the school and family life that I am still taking time to become aquainted with. The other day my host family myself and a friend of Moritz, Hans- who was invited for us to meet each other- all went out together to watch a sport that Göttingen is well known for in Germany - Basketball.
It is interesting, since with other sports such as Soccer, car racing, tennis and even handball dominating sport-airtime on TV in Germany, you don't really hear too much at all about Golf, American Football, or in this case - Basketball.
Even so, I learned the other day that there is most definitely, albeit a small, but competitive National Basketball league in Germany, and Göttingen has one of the best teams.
Entering an old railway repair warehouse, now remodeled as a Basketball stadium, the fans were filing into their seats. It wasn't huge, but at the same time, even for being a smaller sized Basketball stadium, I was very surprised to see a full house, and many fans clad in the purple color of the Göttingen team.
Based on their logo, I think the team had the mascot of fire or heat, and the other team from Tübingen, another leading university town in southern Germany warmed up in their white uniforms, and their Tiger mascot.
Team mascots are something I take for granted I guess, until I realized the other day when talking to a German guy about American football and basketball teams and the origins of their team names - which I guess I can understand what is so unique and facinating about that, since for sports in Germany, like soccer for instance, the team is represented solely by their city/nation/sponsoring insignia and possibly by a color, but not nearly as commercial and symbolic as an American team mascot.
This is what I found unique in the Göttingen stadium hearing American hip hop blasting around as the players warmed up, and the TVs showing the logos, mascots and cheers in German - the experience was very different, yet also very much trying to capture the Americaness of basketball - [ for that matter, most of the players were American as well - the German players were kind of like celebrities since there were so few of them].
During the game, the student section got the fans excited with some loud cheers
GöT- TIN - GEN!!!!!
GöT - TIN - GEN!!!!!
GöT - TIN - GEN!!!!!
And the game was pretty much sealed within the first few minutes, with Göttingen holding a 10 point lead or higher over Tübingen the entire match. Even so, the match was very exciting, it was cool to experience a bit of Göttingen life and cheer for the team, and I also became much more appreciative of the animated cheers and impressive stunts of American cheerleaders after seeing the attempt of their German counterparts trying to do their best just to hold their flyer... who didn't really fly.
The Göttingen team began to have some fun at the end of the match - clearly a win - and began making some big slam dunks to get the crowed cheering some more. The event was another nice evening with my host family, and also an evening where I realized that even something as American as basketball can have its quirks and differences in another country - or more interesting, seeing how another country tries to do something the American way.