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IU international students learn about football during Super Bowl watch party


International students and faculty members watch a YouTube video from the NFL explaining football and the Super Bowl Feb. 2 in the Global and International Studies Building. The watch party was organized by the IU Office of International Services to encourage international students to learn more about American culture and society. Ty Vinson

Twenty-five pizzas, 800 chicken wings and “cheat sheets” were set on every chair, the night was ready to begin.

More than 70 international students, faculty, friends and family members came together Sunday night in the Global and International Studies Building for the 54th Super Bowl game between the San Francisco 49ers and the Kansas City Chiefs.

Katie Goodroad from the IU Office of International Services' international student life team said the office organized the event to help international students become more familiar with American football and the Super Bowl. It’s one of the many events the office puts on throughout the semester to help international students engage with American culture.

“It’s a way to build community,” Goodroad said.

Before the game, Goodroad played a YouTube video released by the NFL that helped explain some of the more general concepts of football, such as what passes and fumbles are. “Cheat sheets” were available to help students remember terms and different aspects of the game, such as how the game is scored.

Goodroad said the international student staff members at the event had to research football and its concepts and terms before the game in order to be prepared to answer attendees' questions.

Senior Haodong Xuan started watching football his freshman year. Xuan, some of his roommates and their resident assistant watched the Super Bowl in Willkie Quad that year. It was also the first year he went to an IU football game, one against Michigan State.

Xuan volunteered at the watch party. He said many of the people who attended the event haven’t experienced American football before. He said it’s important for people to understand this aspect of American culture.

“The Super Bowl is a symbol of American life,” Xuan said.

As people filled their plates and bowls with pizza, wings and Cheetos Puffs, Goodroad took a count of which team people were rooting for. Only two or three people raised their hands for the 49ers, and about a dozen people raised theirs for Kansas City. Everyone else said they were just excited to be there watching the game.

First-year graduate student Anusha Manganahalli said she doesn’t have a favorite team, so she planned to cheer for both.

“Sports is thrilling,” Manganahalli said. “I like the climax.”

As the game began, students and faculty members settled into their chairs with their friends and families. After Kansas City’s first fumble, the crowd groaned. Scattered “oh”s could be heard as the 49ers came close to a touchdown.

“It’s important to feel this feeling and get excited about this,” Xuan said.

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