NFL Agrees To Play More Games In London And I Really Hope A Full-Time Team Overseas Isn’t Next
In what can only be described as, yet another, money hungry move by the NFL and its “fearless” leader Roger Goodell, the league announced that it reached an agreement to play at least three additional games over a three-year period in London, beginning in 2016, at Twickenham Stadium.
While the name of the stadium is about as British as you can get, the sport of American football isn’t as native. Still, that hasn’t stopped Goodell and his cronies from trying to force feed the Brits into a sport that is still very foreign—yet the league is acting as if football is a necessity in that country.
In the same press release announcing the additional three games overseas, it’s careful to use the word “minimum,” meaning there could be additional contests or, as rumors have suggested for the past few years, a home team in the U.K. soon.
Here’s where my rant comes in, so bear with me.
While I’m all for the expansion of American football into different parts of the globe, any professional sports league that is seriously considering a franchise in London is ignoring the simple fact of logistics and intrigue.
Sure, potentially, reaching millions of new fans in a new country adds great intrigue, value and, bottom line, lots of additional money to whatever league makes the splash to do so, but that doesn’t mean it will work.
If the NBA can strike out in a city like Vancouver, relocating the Grizzlies to another small-market—Memphis—after just six seasons, what would happen if an NFL team in London were to fumble worse than Mark Sanchez?
Let’s just stick to what these international games are supposed to be; a spectacle and opportunity for fans to enjoy some of the biggest names in sports for a game or two. Anything more than that is trivial.
The Jacksonville Jaguars, the team most commonly mentioned for a move to London, might struggle with attendance and are one their way to a fifth-straight losing season. Still, taking their roots from Florida to London isn’t going to change their bad luck or worse play on the field, so why entertain the idea.
Oh, and if the league has smoked itself dumb and forgotten, there was an entire pro football league in Europe once called NFL Europe. Yeah, how did that end up for you?
Go ahead, NFL, play as many games as you prefer in other countries to gather new fans and engage a new audience. Just don’t make the mistake of thinking that converting those foreign fans into regular ones will be done by having a full-time team in a country that never asked for one.
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