This post is part of an archived series of blogs called The LeVine Line, written by former Ambassador Suzan G. LeVine during her time at U.S. Embassy Bern.
5 February 2015
On Sunday night/Monday morning, even though my Seahawks didn’t win the Superbowl, I feel like I had a big win because I got to learn about, see the connections with, and meet players, coaches, officials and presidents from across the Swiss American Football League.
“What’s that?” you might say. That’s right – there is a whole league here in Switzerland with levels A, B, and C, a junior program and even flag football! There are even parallel leagues across Europe. In fact, the right tackle for the Patriots, Sebastian Vollmer, first played junior league in Germany for the Düsseldorf Panther before being recruited to attend and play at the University of Houston.
In connecting with folks, what really spoke deeply to my heart is that they are all volunteers – building a community within their towns as well as across the country. I watched as league members who will face off against each other in a game greeted each other warmly as if they are all family.
And, according to Robin Haas, the President of the Basel Gladiators – they are. She and her husband, Dwaine Wood – the Gladiators’ coach for over 20 years, feel like all of the team members across the league are their kids.
Spending time talking with Jens Müller – one of the officials whose day job is that of professional IT administrator – I learned that the rules mirror those in the United States. I also learned how much personal passion goes into the whole league from the community who, despite day jobs, spend a significant amount of time on the administration, promotion, and play of the game.
Most teams’ sponsors were also celebrating and hosting Super Bowl parties across the country – so I appreciate those who “took one for the team” to come to our residence to watch instead of gathering with the rest of their teams.
Finally – I got to learn another way in which we have common values between our two countries: Sport – especially with such high levels of strategy – is very important to the culture within and across our countries – whether it’s football, futbol, tennis, skiing, rowing, and so much more – our citizens like to participate, compete and excel! And our fans like to eat!
Below are pictures from the event – vielen dank to Robin Haas, Guido Lichtensteiger, Jeremy Lyf, Manuel Aeberli, and US Embassy Bern for the great photos!