Wednesday, May 16, 2007

NFL is to the world as MLS is to America

Evan Weiner takes a look at the issues facing the National Football League as they try to increase the appeal to people outside of the 48 states and interestingly enough, they are very similar to those facing soccer within those same 48.

Read this paragraph but replace NFL with MLS and Europe with America and tell me if you haven't read something similar:
Hurdles remain numerous for the NFL in Europe. The league enjoys no football equivalent of basketball's Dirk Nowitzki or hockey's Jaromir Jagr, and there exists no American football feeder system in the school system. Until Europeans begin playing American football in their leisure time — and there is no indication that Europeans, Asians, Africans, Australians, and South Americans are ready to embrace the pigskin — the NFL will continue to play catch-up with the other pro sports leagues.

And what is the suggested solution?

"The best the NFL can do is build an infrastructure for growth over decades, not years."

Sounds sort of familiar, except I think American football is a bit of a harder sell because even in America, kids play soccer growing up.

I have no doubt that one off games, like the Giants-Dolphins game that went on sale today, will sellout, but like international friendlies played in the US, these single games will not equal a permanent fan base.

One very interesting thing is that Weiner doesn't really mention how big soccer is around the world. His closest thing to recognition is this line:

"The league lags far behind the NHL, the National Basketball Association, and Major League Baseball, as well as soccer and cricket, on the world stage."

It might just be me but the 'as well as' part of this line makes is sound like soccer and cricket are smaller then the other three.

The NFL would be foolish to not try and make their brand into an international powerhouse, but they are starting in a weaker spot then any other major sport.

Soccer has ruled the world for a hundred years, baseball, thanks to the US military, is rooted strongly in certain areas of the world, hockey has been a passion in cold locations for generations and basketball requires very little equipment to make it work. American football, on the other hand, is not really played anywhere other then the US and Canada, requires a large amount of space and equipment and is full of rules. Needless to say, it is a hard sell.

I wish the league the best but I must confess there is part of me that is looking forward to NFL fans having to defend the sport when articles come out talking about how boring the games are with all the stoppage and timeouts and how un-manly the players are when compared to rugby. "I mean all those pads, I thought they were tough."

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Blogger Allen said...

48 states? Did Trump fire 2 of them???

6:35 PM  

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