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AMERICAN FOOTBALL: A BBC NEWS SPECIAL REPORT

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WE'RE NOT SO DIFFERENT, YOU AND I

GATE AGENT: I'm terribly sorry, sir, but you're not going to be able to fly out today. You see, today's November 10th - 11/10. This plane ticket is for October 11th - 10/11. Your flight left nearly a month ago.

NIGEL COTSWOLD-GRIMBLESBLART, BBC NEWS WORLD SERVICE REPORTER: Well, bloody hell. I always forget how you Yanks do these things. So I'm stuck here?

GATE AGENT: I'll be happy to rebook you, but [tapping keys] it doesn't look like we have further flights connecting through to Heathrow until [tapping more keys] Tuesday.

NIGEL: Bollocks.

GATE AGENT: is that a swear

NIGEL: I've been away from home for 18 months covering this interminable election. I haven't had a proper pint of ale in so long I can't remember. I've spent every day talking to voters across this region - it's exhausting and I just want to get back to me flat and catch up on EastEnders. What on earth am I going to do with an extra weekend in Iowa?

MAN PASSING BY: Hey pal, that's a great accent you got there! Boston?

NIGEL: Colchester.

MAN: Gesundheit! Anyways, name's Dale.

NIGEL: Nigel.

DALE: Say, I couldn't help but overhear that you're stuck here with nothing to do this weekend, and wouldn't you know it, I've got a spare ticket to the Hawkeyes game this weekend. Wanna come with me?

NIGEL: I say, that's proper brilliant of you, I'd be chuffed to bits.

DALE: [blank look]

NIGEL: I'd be delighted to.

DALE: Great!

[flash-forward to Saturday afternoon, inside Kinnick Stadium]

NIGEL: Right. So, I think I'm starting to get a handle of this. So if one of those big blokes runs it to the end, you get six points, oi? And if the little dodger kicks it between the wicket, it's three, but it's one if it's right after the hefty lad's to-do?

DALE: That's right.

NIGEL: Now what's all this where you just kick it up really high and the other side takes it?

DALE: Listen, do you want a beer?

NIGEL: Right, then, I didn't know there was a pub in the stadium!

DALE: there's not, but [looks around, pulls Bud Heavy from pants] you gotta plan ahead.

NIGEL: [opening and sipping a warm beer that has been in an Iowan's pants for several hours] I say, American beer isn't so strange after all! Now, tell me more about these teams. There's quite a large crowd here, is Iowa one of the best teams in the league?

DALE: [wearing 2016 Rose Bowl shirt purchased at Hy-Vee last December] Sure, uh, sometimes.

NIGEL: But then these Michigan chaps, they seem to be giving us quite the spot of bother at the moment [note: the score is 42-5 in the second quarter. Jim Harbaugh is currently berating a cheerleader about t-shirt cannon technique], they must win the league every year, no?

DALE: Not since 2004. [a t-shirt whizzes by his head and knocks down a fan in the row behind them]

NIGEL: Well, are the other eight teams in these league good?

DALE: No. And there's actually 12 others.

NIGEL: That doesn't make any sense, mate.

DALE: It makes even less when you know who they are.

NIGEL: Oh my. Well, they're putting a fine rogering to us, is the manager going to be sacked?

DALE: No, we actually just extended him. He'll be here until 2025.

NIGEL: But you can still sack him, oi?

DALE: No, it'd cost tens of millions of dollars.

[they watch in silence for a bit]

[Jim Harbaugh is castrating a bull by hand at midfield, in an attempt to inspire his underperforming team, who is now up 58-8]

[they continue to watch silently]

NIGEL: Say, 'ave you got any more of that trouser-lager, mate?