It looks like the Pittsburgh Steelers and the Minnesota Vikings are going to go head to head in London next year along with the Jacksonville Jaguars going against the San Francisco 49er’s. It seems hard to believe that the English are all that intrigued with American football. In fact, I challenge anyone who knows a sports fan from across the pond to ask them what they think of the National Football League. For most of them it is a novelty and nothing more. They don’t know the names of the teams or the names of the players and they are certainly not all that familiar with the rules. The NFL coming to England is like the Harlem Globetrotters coming to your neck of the woods. It is entertaining, but you don’t need to be a huge basketball fan to enjoy the game. The English are too wrapped up in soccer or football if you want to be “pc” about it. It is basically the equivalent of Americans suddenly becoming huge fans of soccer. Of course, there are quite a few soccer fans in America, but the sport will never become main stream.
With all these things in mind, why does the NFL keep sending teams over the pond to duke it out in a place where no American has much of a chance to see the game, let alone go to the game? I can appreciate the NFL trying to expand the American culture to other parts of the world, but after several years of playing games over there, the popularity still seems to be the same. If they’re not interested then they’re not interested. I think it is time that we admit the obvious fact that it is one giant publicity stunt perpetuated by the owners so that they can make a few extra bucks. It doesn’t matter if the people of London are true Steelers or Vikings fans, just as long as they go home with a jersey. Frankly, if the people of London love their soccer so much, then let them have soccer. We as Americans don’t need to be shoving our sports down their throats. I’m sure that there are plenty of fans in America who would like to attend those games much more than the people of London.
On the other side of the coin, I’m sure there are plenty of people in London who are sick of the United States trying to force our sports on them and it just gives them another reason to hate us. The thing that makes a genuine American football fan is tradition. A tradition that involves backyard barbecues, tailgating, cold weather, beer, and hometown loyalty. Fans are loyal to their teams because they grew up in the town that that team is from. Take Steelers fans for example. They are some of the most loyal fans in football and they are notorious for following their team around the country and I’m sure there will be a few that take the trip across the Atlantic next year. However, the reason these fans are so devoted is because they all have a long standing tradition in Pittsburgh. Families have passed down their allegiance to their kids and football is rooted in their blood, which I might add is black and yellow. So for the NFL to try and send these teams over to London to try and start the kind of tradition that America has is simply a fantasy.
London has these kinds of traditions with their soccer teams. Anyone who has seen Green Street Hooligans would understand that. Come on NFL owners; there’s no need to send your team over there. It is pointless for the fans and that’s what’s most important. You have billions of dollars and you don’t need to compromise the integrity of the game just to make a little money. What you are trying to do is build a fan base on the idea of a logo or a superstar player. The love of the game should come organically and you should find your team based on hometown or family tradition. It is arrogant to think that if Americans love football then everyone across the world should love football. I’m sorry but that’s just not the way it works.