NFL should stay out of Wembley: United Kingdom is golf, soccer and rugby country
In the roughly eight weeks of my life I’ve spent in Great Britain & Ireland, not one observation or conversation has led me to believe the NFL could ever be successful there.
Yet here the NFL is on Sunday, storming into London’s Wembley Stadium. After repeated failings in Europe with World League Football, here they are, still peeing into the wind.
Look, I’m cool with Americans spreading our credit and obesity epidemics to the four corners of the world. But c’mon, lets spare the globe from American football. How would you like it if suddenly cricket highlights started popping up on SportsCenter?
There’s just no market for the NFL across the pond, partially because there’s already no room for it. The U.K. in particular, is golf country. If there is a glimmer of sunshine on a fall weekend, everyone’s at the local club playing in a match. Sure, there might be a soccer or rugby game on in the afternoon, but I don’t get the impression anyone watches TV for seven straight hours like legions of Americans do on fall Saturdays & Sundays, guzzling light beer and going through six bags of Tostitos.
They’re also passionate about their amateur golf to a degree few Americans could even fathom and every club seems to have hosted at least one MAJOR amateur event in it’s history, to which they are infinitely proud of. I joke with some guys over there that if there’s a young lad somewhere in in the Isles who just broke 80 for the first time, he’s in the national paper by the next week. But seriously, they’re a very knowledgeable and connected set of fans over there. It reminds me of Montreal Canadians fans, who appreciate good hockey at any level, and always have one eye on the QMJHL and OHL junior leagues.
Hockey has expanded from Canada into the northern parts of Europe and Scandinavia, baseball has found a niche in Latin America and Japan, and Basketball has enjoyed a somewhat random expansion to everywhere from Argentina to China to Lithuania. But just because some of the other Big Four sports in North America have spread it’s wings beyond their continent, the NFL shouldn’t feel the need to show off it’s universal appeal. It doesn’t have it.
The number one reason? In other parts of the world, sporting events aren’t peppered with commercials like made-for-TV football. There are too many stoppages, which is why soccer and rugby do so well there. It’s continuous action.
To put things in perspective to any American who has never watched a sporting event in Europe, a few months ago, a British man was complaining to me about CBS’s coverage of this year’s Masters. But it wasn’t for the flowery commentating we lament. It was because the coverage had too many commercials. Remember, this is an event that prides itself on showing golf 56 minutes an hour.
So hopefully, the NFL will realize they’re only welcome as a curious novelty that comes around once in awhile just to shake things up a little bit. You know, kind of like the U.S. with the World Cup.
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Even watching live is somehow better than in the US. You'd get some commercials at half time and maybe some commercials between quarters but most of the times US sees commercials, Europe gets scoreboards with the other games and it's easy to follow what happens in other fields.
Now... playing games in London - that's kind of stupid in my opinion. You don't get public interest in a sport just by one event. Maybe making the fscking free online match available to people outside US would get more than playing in London. But nooo, NFL thinks that being able to watch a free game per week get more viewers from a country that can watch the game on TV anyway than from the rest of the world.