Thursday, June 26, 2008

Euro 2008: Turkey-Germany, a Heidi Game for a New Generation

For any of you reading this from outside the United States, I need to tell you about the Heidi Game. In November 1968, the New York Jets and Oakland Raiders were playing a football game (American style)--these were the top two teams in what was then known as the American Football League. The Jets were leading 32-29 with 1:05 remaining in the game, which was broadcast nationwide by NBC Sports.

The game, which began at 4 p.m., preceded the broadcast of the children's film Heidi. NBC has some kind of contractual obligations to the sponsors of the film and were forced to cut away at 7 p.m.--with the Jets leading by three and one minute remaining in the game.

Well, while viewers were watching the little, blonde, curly-haired Heidi skipping across the Swiss Alps (how ironic!), naturally, the Oakland Raiders scored twice in the final minute to beat the Raiders, 43-32. Naturally, 40 years ago, there was no Internet, no immediacy of news and viewers found out the shocking result only when NBC ran a crawl across the bottom of the screen a few minutes into Heidi.

The result was a backlash of anger, venom and fury toward NBC. The game is forever known as the Heidi Game here in America.

Fast forward four decades to yesterday, and the modern-day version of the Heidi Game.

Several times, the international feed of the broadcast of yesterday's Turkey-Germany thriller were interrupted by lightning and wind either in Austria or Switzerland (oh, the irony); it still isn't known. But what anxious viewers do know is they missed two goals during the blackouts, including Turkey's emotional game-tying tally at 85 minutes that at the time seemingly was going to send the game to extra time.

Luckily, the feed did return for Lahm's game-winner in the 90th minute. In the interim, we were treated to shots of the Fan Zone in Basel (how did those guys have power any way?), and no doubt the ears of television producers at the game were burning with the worldwide cursing directed their way.

I guess, the TV blackout just adds to the lore of the game, which is forever a Euro classic considering the backstory to Turkey's appearance in the game and the monumental upset the Germans were on the verge of absorbing.

Just wondering: What's the Turkish word for Heidi?

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I am afraid to dissappoint you, but it is still "Heidi"