Crucial Challenge: How to Find American Sports in Chile

Maggie Lowenberg is a student at the University of Colorado, Boulder and an ISA Featured Blogger. Maggie is currently studying abroad in Valparaiso, Chile on an ISA Fall 1 program.

Getting physical by going sandboarding in Con Con.

Like many of my friends studying abroad in Chile, I have faced many challenges: language barriers, getting lost because I took the wrong micro (mini bus), not having enough money to pay for a token to use the restroom…etc. However, as an American sports fan, I theorized I would have challenges of viewing some of my favorite baseball or college football games this fall. That said, I made a compromise with myself: my experiences in Chile would come before watching sports.

This Fall, I have been missing my hometown football team, the University of Missouri Tigers, being obliterated in their first year in the SEC, but I learned to appreciate a new type of football (you know, they type where you ACTUALLY play with your feet?!) First, I learned that I should NEVER call futból “soccer” in Chile, only gringos from the U.S. say soccer. Second, if you don’t know anything about futból in Chile then you must be living in a cave. This sport is not just a physical activity but also, a large part of Chilean culture. During Chile’s World Cup qualification games the streets were deserted because everyone was packed into bars, restaurants, or homes to watch the matches. I felt so integrated into Chilean culture while watching these matches. I would scream “gooolllllll!” when our team scored, shouted with my Chilean friends the different motivational cheers, and sympathized when we lost. Futból is something that brings us all together because it breaks language barriers and homogenizes groups to work toward a common goal: supporting our team!

But as October began, I knew I would confront a new challenge to my compromise of forgoing American sports: October baseball. The word obsessed doesn’t begin to explain my passion for Major League Baseball, I bleed St. Louis Cardinals RED! I thought if my Cards made it into the playoff games I would be able to sacrifice watching all of the games because the Cardinals showed me the best baseball of my life the previous World Series. Yet, come Friday, October 12 at midnight, I was glued to a TV watching my Cardinals make a comeback from the Washington Nationals unlike any other in baseball history. So at “press time” my Cardinals are about to enter round two of playoffs tonight. I am beginning to question how faithful I will be to my compromise. Studying abroad in Chile is a unique opportunity that should not be taken for granted. I don’t want to miss things like sunsets on the beach of Valparaiso or dancing the night away to live Afro Latin American music at a small theatre in Cerro Concepción.

INSTEAD of watching Saturday NCAA Football, I am enjoying a hike in San Pedro with friends.

I’ve concluded as long as Chile continues to keep me on my toes and provide me with new and fascinating experiences at every moment, I think I will be able to sacrifice watching ALL the games. (…Unless anyone knows anything about relapsing time? Any takers?) Further, I have the opportunity to go to my first futból match Tuesday: Chile vs Argentina. Stay tuned here for your post-game report. ☺


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