Who else thought handball was just a unit in high school gym class? Turns out in France, there are national handball leagues for men and women which are pretty popular. Briana’s host mom works in sports promotion and gets free tickets from time to time so I got to see the game this past Friday between the Nîmes and Dijon men’s teams. Allez, l’USAM! Which, with the southern addition of the “euh” sound at the end sounded like people were cheering “Allez, Osama!” Awkward. O, that southern French accent… The match was complete with a pep band and pom pom girls (aka cheerleaders). At half time, since Marie’s job means she has a link to the team, we got access to the lounge and had some brandade de Nîmes with white wine. Classy. This is also where I discovered the identity of my landlord. I was admiring the drawings on the walls of the lounge and saw the signature. I asked Marie and it turns out my landlord is a local celebrity for his artistic talents. Cool!
Scaccianotte definitely stood out as the best player. The language-obsessed person I am also can’t help but admire his name. Cacciare= to hunt in Italian. Add an “s” before a verb or adjective, you get its opposite, scacciare thus meaning to chase away. Notte= night. So basically, his last name means he chases the night away. Pretty epic etymology there.
Can we also take a moment to talk about the rampant sexism in the advertisements for the Nîmes woman’s handball team (HBCN)? The caption invites us to “Come roar with the lionesses” and both women have rather sexy faces, number 11 what I like to call the “come hither” face and number 13 “the roar.” Number 13 is lifting the shirt of number 11 so we can see her tattoo. Ok, so they’re lionesses, they’re intense, they roar. I get it. But what’s with the sexy lifting of the shirt and “come hither” face? Maybe it’s supposed to be a look of intensity, but given the sexy shirt lifting, it loses something. Seeing these posters plastered around the city, I honestly thought the women’s league was some kind of equivalent of a WWE for women, focused on sex appeal and not athletic talent. Not so though, and the Nîmes women’s team is pretty highly ranked.
Compare their poster to the advertisement for the men’s team: the men are completely covered. The appeal has nothing to do with sex- let’s face it, these men look better in real life than in this poster. The appeal is in their resemblance to super heroes and their power.