Now that the Dolphins and Giants have played their “historic game” that turned out anti-climatic, NFL executives and media monguls can stop their talk about how the NFL is ready for the “Next Frontier”. It was great hype to make sure this game went smoothly, but anyone with a clue should realize it all is nonsense.
And please, for God’s sake, stop talking about sending the Superbowl to London!I’ve lived overseas for two decades. Sure, there is an element of people in every country who like American sports and culture and all that, but to suggest that American Football should export the championship game of one of its national pasttimes just because they can fill a stadium is madness.
Haven’t we all forgotten that the NFL Europe just closed its doors and even seemingly successful teams such as the London Monarchs and the Barcelona Dragons didn’t make it to the final day? Even if the Superbowl is successfully exported as an event, we are being näive to think that this would translate to local participation rising more than a few percentage points.
Soccer, the true world sport known as football anywhere but in the United States, requires a round ball and a few sticks or even tree trunks to mark your goals. American football requires a special ball and lots of expensive equipment. Without an infrastructure like our school system provides, overseas participation in this sport will be limited to a selection of thrill-seekers looking for something to do that is different than the status-quo. I know from personal experience that they will have to pay at least $ 2,000 for the priviledge.
Is it fair to rob the American public of their championship game for a few NFL executive pipe dreams? I even wonder how fair it is to the people of Miami to ship one of their home games overseas. Granted, the Dolphins are having a depressing season. Still, there are a lot of people going to these games whether they are winning or losing and a lot of local merchants in and around the stadium are unfairly losing one of their paydays this year.
Nevermind the logistics involved in these overseas games. Stadiums are not truly built for the size of the American football field. There is the moving of all that equipment and the sheer number of players, coaches and support personnel as well as all the media and just about everything else involved. It is a huge operation for just one game; now imagine it being done many times a year. Consider also the jet lag due to the major time differences with Europe and Asia and you are unfairly handicapping teams’ abilities to be competitive at the highest level.
The NFL Europe was just right for this continent, but the league approached it all wrong. They actually expected it to be profitable. The league should have simply been considered like baseball’s minor leagues where players who were not first string would get the chance to play real game time in a competitive atmosphere. They simply needed to be managed well enough to offset as much of the cost as possible and the NFL teams benefiting from the “farm system” would pick up the slack.
In many ways, that’s what it was. Kurt Warner was clearly the poster boy having played time in Amsterdam before going to St. Louis and winning the Superbowl with the Rams while being named both the season and Superbowl MVP. While his story is exceptional, many NFL stars have lead a path through Europe, but this avenue will no longer be available to them.
In the meantime, delirious NFL executives continue talking about exporting more games overseas and now even the Superbowl. They are clearly thinking more about the quick bucks that these games might generate rather than hometown fans who are being denied a home game.
American fans need to speak up and loudly. The merchants who are losing income due to the loss of home games need to make it clear that this is simply not fair and the mayors of these towns need to be vocal about their teams showing some loyalty to the communities that support them.
Whatever it takes, these executives need to be reminded that this remains only America’s game and that there really is nothing wrong with that.