Iranians bring love of American football to Tehran
By Fredrik Dahl
TEHRAN (Reuters Life!) - The oval-shaped ball spins high through the night air toward a player streaking toward the far end of the field.
"Oh my God! That's a sweet-looking catch," the quarterback whose thrown the ball shouts in American-accented English as the receiver jumps and grabs it with one hand.
A common scene in any U.S. town, perhaps.
But this is Tehran, capital of a country which President George W. Bush once referred to as part of an "axis of evil," and the American football enthusiasts are Iranians.
"All of us share a love for American football," said Payam Kashani as he stood watching his friends play on a cool October evening beneath floodlights at Tehran's Shahid Keshvari stadium.
"We see it as a sport, not an American sport," he said. "The whole point is for us to have fun."
So far it is on a modest scale, with only enough participants this evening to take up half a field normally used for soccer, the Islamic Republic's most popular team sport.
Payam's brother J.J., a nickname he has kept from his school years in Kansas City in the late 1980s, said most of them became fans while studying in the United States. Continued...