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College Football Fans Abroad Prepare For Thanksgiving Weekend Games


For college football fans, there is an order to Thanksgiving weekend. Family on Thursday, leftovers Friday, game day Saturday. Tomorrow is the biggest day for college football rivalries. For super fans who live overseas it can be a little more complicated to bring your blood up to a full boil for game day. We've called up a couple of rivals who have never met, both of them ex-pats struggling with this challenge. In London, Eric Kumbier is a University of Michigan fan. Hi there.


SHAPIRO: And in the Netherlands, Samik Parsa (ph) is an Ohio State fan. Hello to you.


SHAPIRO: So how are you each planning on watching the game tomorrow? Eric, you first.

KUMBIER: Well, I teach in Beirut. But my college roommate, I'm meeting him up in London because he teaches in Lithuania. And we're watching it at a sports bar in London.

SHAPIRO: And Samik?

PARSA: Wow, that's perfect. We're actually - I'm having a few friends over here at my place here in Holland. And we're going to gather, you know, as many Buckeye fans as we can to keep the emotion high.

SHAPIRO: No Michigan fans allowed?

PARSA: Well, you know, it's TBD. So, like, I don't have - I didn't invite any, but if they happen to show up...

SHAPIRO: I mean, God forbid you would be friends with somebody like that.

PARSA: (Laughter).

SHAPIRO: Are you both planning on running the streets of these European cities with, like, your faces painted and your bare chests with the letter of your school on them?

KUMBIER: I did that in my university days. I've got my Michigan gear, my Michigan apparel. So that'll have to be good enough for now. I don't have the face paint with me right now.


PARSA: Same here. I don't know that Holland's ready for that yet.

SHAPIRO: (Laughter).

PARSA: Maybe if it was closer to Carnival I could - I might be able to get away with it but, yeah, probably not this weekend.

SHAPIRO: Can you explain why these two particular teams are each other's rivals? I mean, why not like Pennsylvania or Indiana or something?

KUMBIER: It's a historic rivalry. I think it dates back past football. A lot of it is we're upset with them when they got Toledo. There was a dispute between the state line.

SHAPIRO: You mean like an actual war, like, over Toledo, Ohio, like, there was fighting among the states?

KUMBIER: Sounds absurd today, but it was actually a big deal back in the 1800s. But then the college football rivarly got going and it really picked up when both Schembechler and Woody Hayes coached against each other. Bo was Woody's protege. He went on to coach at Michigan. They coached against each other for 10 years and that was kind of the most intense stuff. Well, well before I was born but the hatred kind of carries over from one generation to another.

SHAPIRO: You know, it's funny you two obviously have this innate hatred for one another. And yet, it seems that you understand each other better than any of the people in the country around you understand either of you.

KUMBIER: It's hardwired into you. So, I mean, Michigan-Ohio State on this side of the pond, same with the European football rivalries on the other side. So a little bit of that is hardwired into us wherever we come. But I think Michigan-Ohio State kind of takes it up a couple notches.

PARSA: To me it's the rivalry in all of sport. You could take Red Sox-Yankees, Celtics-Lakers. I don't know. I can't think of a bigger rivalry in all of sport.

KUMBIER: There isn't one.

SHAPIRO: So at least you agree on that.

PARSA: We do. We do.

SHAPIRO: Samik Parsa on the line with us from the Netherlands and Eric Kumbier joining us via Skype from the U.K. Good luck to you both.

KUMBIER: All right, thank you very much.

PARSA: Thanks, Ari. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

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