When the 2015 NFL schedule came out, I found myself frustrated and complaining because the Vikings’ season opener doesn’t start until after 9:00 p.m. Which means I will be awake until after midnight. On a Monday. I couldn’t believe this level of inconvenience.
And then I met Erik Sandgren.
Sandgren lives in Täby, a suburb of Stockholm, Sweden. There is a seven-hour time difference between Minneapolis and Täby. When the Vikings play the 49ers on Sept. 14, Sandgren will be tuning in at 4 a.m. And suddenly, just like that, I feel like a much less dedicated fan.
Sandgren’s story is a good one. Now 35 and loving life with his wife and daughter, Sandgren first became a Vikings fan almost 20 years ago when he lived in Boise, Idaho as an exchange student. His host family, the Fends, provided Sandgren with plenty of rich experiences and helped integrate him into the U.S. culture.
As Idaho has no NFL team of its own, John Fend adopted the Denver Broncos as his team years ago. His son, Kyle, supports the Green Bay Packers (but we won’t talk much about that). Sandgren was a big fan of European soccer, and he was disappointed that the U.S. did not have a big emphasis on the sport at the time. Both being big American football fans, John and Kyle introduced the sport to Sandgren. At first, he was less than fascinated.
“I enjoyed watching the games, but I really had no tooting interest,” Sandgren recalls.