Dear Dirty America


Glitz & Glam: the US vs the UK

February 16
22:56 2012



Perthshire, Scotland 

The Super Bowl. Now that is the way to put on a show. No expense was spared as the show began. We sat back, waiting with bated breath wondering how it would play out. There was a roar from the capacity crowd as rockets were set off and smoke billowed across the pitch. 

Then it started. A middle aged women trying not to look her age cavorted across the brightly lit stage. Yes, it was Madonna! There was also a football game to be played. But it was very much a secondary consideration to the main event. 

More has been more written about an artificially preserved performer than a fantastic sporting occasion. Madness, but very American. Over here in the UK, this type of behavior is treated somewhat scornfully. Too flashy for us, seems to be the attitude. Our top sporting events are much more muted affairs. Where the USA goes all out for entertainment, here we are told to be thankful for two 50 pence rockets and half a dozen coloured lights! 

America has cheerleaders that make your eyes bug out. Here we have a few chunky but enthusiastic girls in homemade ill matching outfits, stomping around in elephantine fashion, to an out of tune school band made up of spotty-faced youths, faces screwed up in hopeful concentration. Not a pretty sight.Americans are able to put on a show that makes a full stadium simultaneously gasp in amazement. Here, by contrast, we have the ability to make a full stadium not even notice anything has happened! That is, if anything has happened at all.

In America, paying customers are important. They are paying the bills after all. In the UK, customers are treated as if they’re a problem to be put up with grudgingly. 

One of the only ways sport in both countries overlaps is when it comes to wages. Football, or soccer as you in the US insist on calling it, has wages that would make your eyes water! But only the top English leagues can afford this. That comes down to huge television contracts. Other sports don’t do so well. Basketball, for instance, is very much a minority sport, as is ice hockey. Baseball just doesn’t exist here. America puts on amazing shows to compliment its sports. When Britain tries this it just looks sad and desperate. 

I’m reminded of the firework show that was to be the highlight of London’s millennium celebrations. There was going to be a “river of fire” on the Thames. Turned out to be less than a river and more of a trickle of a flicker. So pathetic! 

So now we have the Olympics in London this year. My heart sinks at the thought of the disappointments to come. They have said that they cannot emulate Beijing four years ago. Well that was a given. If they can emulate themselves from 1948, I’d be amazed! 

Time will tell how well it is all done. What I do know, is that if it was done in the USA, it would have great cheerleaders.

To contact Michael J Blair, you can email him at:


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