The Turkey Bowl?
RELEASED: Dec. 1, 2005
Taylor Rockwell, a junior from Richmond, Va., is studying abroad in Turkey under the direction of Tom McCollough, Rodes Professor of Religion. But while most of the students are tackling the Turkish language and culture, Taylor is letting it tackle him…by playing football for the Bilkent (University) Judges in Western Anatolia.
DANVILLE, KYIs it unusual for schools in Turkey to play "American" football?
So, it’s becoming more common, but it’s a far way off from being normal. In fact, most of the people that come to watch do so out of curiosity, since they’ve never seen the sport. Families NEVER come, because they seem to think it’s barbaric. The two problems facing the growth of the sport are equipment availability and the name itself.
It’s tough to find a lot of the necessary equipment here in Turkey, but the schools really want it to be legitimate, so they buy the essentials. However, everything else has to be imported from the States, so most guys either spend a lot of money or make do with what’s here. We wear soccer shoes and such… but it all works pretty well. You can see the uniforms are nice…
The other problem, as I said before, is the name of the sport. Most people here really have no problem with the States. A lot of the guys on the team go there to work in the summer. However, many people see the sport as another way American culture is transforming the world. So, they are more inclined to not accept it. The teams try to find ways around that… For example, some of the guys have come to call it “Hardball”… It works.
Nevertheless, they play the same football as the states. My first day I expected them to be terrible. I was all set to be the king of Turkish football… Then we actually started playing and I got knocked off of my pedestal (in a pretty literal sense). Turns out, they’re very good, and just as dedicated as any guy on the Centre team (excluding Brian Dougherty).
Are there problems with language differences?
Yeah, quite a lot. I think they play me on defense because we don’t have plays, so I don’t have to have stuff translated for me all the time. I try to understand what they’re saying, but I only get sentences like, “The running back… hit him… quarterback… Goes to the left… touchdown.” You can see how a problem could develop. So, the coaches and players make an effort to translate for me. It’s a great group of guys, so that makes it a lot easier.
Are there differences (rules, scoring, etc.) between how the game is played
Really, I wanted to go somewhere I knew nothing about, and Turkey seemed the perfect place. Turns out I made a good decision…
Why are you standing with soldiers in one picture?
In Turkey, military service is mandatory for men when they come of age. As a result, the military is pretty big, and they have to find places for them to work/serve. So, the guys in the pictures are members of the Jandarma (military police) and were charged with guarding the school we were playing. I couldn’t pass on the opportunity.
How is the food?
Better than Cowan…
Anything else you'd like to add?
We won our first game against the Sakarya Titans 129-2. It was pretty ridiculous…. I had an interception and a touchdown. The defense alone forced 14 turnovers.
I think that playing a sport while studying abroad was the best decision I’ve made since coming to Turkey. It serves a variety of purposes: I get to meet Turks, learn about their culture, speak Turkish (poorly mind you), and, at the end of the day, get tackled by 300 pound linemen. Good times.
The guys on the team make life in Turkey a far more unique experience. They’re essentially a fraternity and a family combined (think the Phi Delts only without all the country music).I honestly can’t stress enough how rewarding of an experience study abroad has been. I’ve loved Turkey… I’m pretty sad to be leaving. I would definitely recommend the program to anyone interested.
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