Saturday, February 1, 2014

The Super Bowl

The Senegalese equivalent of the Super Bowl, that is. Yesterday morning started with a CPA from admin stating volunteers should avoid about 10 quarters in Dakar because there was a big lamb fight that day in the city. Now, that did not mean much to me but what I hadn't realized at the time is that one of the fighters is actually from Mboro. And the fight is one of the biggest of the year. This had everyone buzzing all day about the fight scheduled to start at 8PM. And in classic Senegalese style there were hours of discussion on TV leading up to the fight. When I joined my little brothers around 8:15, their eyes were already fixed on the action. Typically fights are very short but this one was particularly long-lasting. The two best fighters in Senegal were very well matched and there were many close calls. But then, just like that our man from Mboro threw his shoulder under his opponents leg to throw him on his back. The streets instantly lit up with kids and I could hear screaming from across town. It was only then that I found out the winner was from Mboro. 

What interests me is how much people, especially kids, and most especially orphans rally behind these characters. Lamb wrestling is the pride sport of Senegal. Everyone loves futball but lamb wrestling was invented here and it is ingrained into the culture. The characters are larger than life, full of ego, and very wealthy. People here love to talk about the crazy amounts of money these wrestlers make. From what I've experienced with the Talibe (basically Senegalese orphans) they have hope and confidence in the wrestlers. When they play, it's wrestling. When they talk, it's about wrestling.  I can see why so many people pursue the sport in so many ways. And it's also why I could hear celebratory chanting all last night.  And this is why I compare it to the Super Bowl. It is the Senegalese equivalent not just in viewership but in the way people rally behind their athletes. Despite the exorbarent amounts of money they make, it is where our respective fans place their hope. 

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