I attended my first National Football League game this last weekend in Minneapolis at the Mall of America Field. It is the home stadium for the Minnesota Vikings. The Detroit Lions were in town and since my husband grew up close to Detroit he figured it would be a good game for us to see. When he mentioned the idea of going to Minneapolis for a game to friends and family, three other couples decided to join us. Dave was wearing his Detroit Lions hooded sweatshirt for the game and he bought me a Vikings hoodie so we presented a non-partisan front as a couple.
The Mall of America Field which used to be called the Metrodome has an inflatable fibreglass roof which collapsed two years ago when a 17 inch snowfall in Minneapolis put too much pressure on it. It was fully repaired but there are plans in the works now to build a new stadium.
Minneapolis loves its football team. On game day when we were having breakfast all the waitresses in the restaurant were wearing Vikings’ jerseys. The shuttles to the stadium were jam-packed with people. They were even selling children’s books about the Vikings outside the Mall of America Field so you could introduce your youngsters to the team. The parking lot was full of people enjoying tailgate parties before the game.
From the program we learned the football organization has an initiative called Purple Friday. Fans are encouraged to display their passion for the Minnesota Vikings by wearing purple, the team color, to work on Fridays. One fan outside the stadium sported a sign that said Looking for a free ticket. She was desperate to get into the game. I hope someone who didn’t need one of their tickets was able to help her out.
The Vikings players come running out onto the field through this huge inflatable Viking ship to the roar of the crowd. They say the Vikings have the noisiest fans in America. I haven’t been to any other games to make a comparison but they were pretty loud.
Since it was Veterans Day on November 11 the theme of the football game was A Salute to Service and throughout the afternoon the men and women who serve in the American military were honored. Individual soldiers were recognized, presented with plaques and introduced on the giant game screen. This enormous flag was unfurled by military personnel during the half time show while a band from the 34th Infantry played.
Elizabeth Strohfus, a Minnesota veteran and one of an elite core of 1000 women who flew fighter jets during World War II, was given the honor of blowing the Gjallarhorn to signal the entry of the Vikings players into the stadium. The horn was traditionally blown to announce the entry of the gods in Norse mythology. A cadre of service men and women stood at attention along the tunnel exit as the Vikings players came on the field and a special military coin was used for the traditional coin toss before the game.
During the singing of the national anthem people on both sides of the stadium held up the red or white cards that had been placed on their seats to make a huge sign that said Thank You Veterans. During a moment of silence to honor the military a traditional riderless horse, symbolizing a fallen soldier trotted across the end zone. A video on the big screen introduced us to the USS Minnesota a new navy submarine that just had its maiden voyage a month ago.
The Vikings won the game 34-24 and every time they put points up on the board, fireworks went off, flag bearers came running across the field carrying flags that spelled out the word VIKINGS and the cheerleaders did a dance in the end zone while a special song was sung over the speakers and by the fans.
Since the Vikings did lots of scoring they sang that song plenty of times during the game but no matter how hard I listened I couldn’t figure out the words so I looked them up later on the Vikings website.
Skol Vikings, let’s win this game,
Skol Vikings, honor your name,
Go get that first down,
Then get a touchdown.
Rock ’em . . . Sock ’em
Fight! Fight! Fight! Fight!
Go Vikings, run up the score,
You’ll hear us yell for more. . .
Skol, Vikings, let’s go!
I thought they were singing ‘Go Vikings’ and I was curious what ‘Skol Vikings’ meant. Apparently ‘skol’ is a Scandanavian word used to toast a person you admire. It means cheers or good health.
‘Skol’ to my husband who organized our football tickets and planned the trip to Minneapolis, our friend Sue who was in charge of the hotel accommodations and the dinner reservations at a couple of great eating spots, and the other couples who came along and made the weekend an enjoyable time for visiting and friendship.