Friday, June 29, 2007

auf Wiedersehen

The National Football League has decided to close down their 16 year experiment in globalization. NFL Europe will be no more. Goodbye NFL Europe! Thanks for your help in developing Kurt Warner, Jake Delhomme, and my personal favorite - Adam Vinatieri.

Unfortunately, the NFL will not leave the wider world alone. The commissioner stated: “From now on we will focus on regular-season games and use new technologies to make NFL more popular worldwide.”

What’s the point? I entitled this post “auf Wiedersehen” because the only country in which American football was even remotely popular was Germany. The league first began with 10 teams from across the States and Europe; including cities from Spain, Scotland, and England. When NFL Europe removed its shingle there were only six teams; five of them were in Germany and the sixth was in Amsterdam. Who knows, the attendance for the German teams may have been boosted by the American military in that country. That’s just a guess. I have no data to verify that statement.

My point is this: just like soccer will never take off in America, football will never be an international smash. Let’s accept that and move forward. What is the point of playing regular season games in foreign cities? Why do that? How will that create an appreciation and a fan base for American football? If a football league in Europe never took off after 16 seasons, why does anyone believe that playing NFL regular season games abroad will create a thirst for the game? NFL Europe was losing $30 million a season! You cannot blame all of that on poor play. The game just does not appeal to Europeans.

Give it a rest. Play all the pre-season games in Europe, Asia, South America or wherever for all I care. But when the regular season begins, every game should be played stateside. Let the rest of the world watch the games on satellite. If they want to watch a game live they can book passage on a flight over here.

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