Monday, October 24, 2011

Why the NFL Will Never Succeed in Britain

For the fifth straight season, a pair of NFL teams met each other in London's Wembley Stadium. And once again the game sold out. But don't expect a Super Bowl in London, certainly don't expect an expansion franchise across the pond, and don't expect American football to be any bigger in the UK than soccer is in the US. The Brits simply do not like it.

Why? Firstly, they have soccer. They obsess over soccer. They have their own leagues, plus they follow leagues in Spain, Italy, and Germany. Then they have international games. Soccer is their fall sport. It's as big as college football in Alabama.

Some of the British enjoy physically violent sports. Which is why they have rugby. And unlike American football, rugby has more flow to it. Our football stops after every play. Add TV timeouts and a 60 minute clock takes over 3 hours to run. The British don't like that. They like sports with few stoppages.

There are British fans, and NFL games are broadcast in England and get decent ratings. But if the NFL really wants to expand, they need to look beyond places that speak English. They need to go to Germany.

Germany was the only place where NFL Europe enjoyed any measure of success. Germany has already produced NFL talent. Germans don't have much rugby. Culturally speaking, Germans would like the start-stop format of NFL games. Their national soccer team is usually best at set-piece plays that are pre-planned. Germany has already embraced North American sports like basketball and hockey. They have no anti-US bias in what sports they follow. They already have a 14 team pro league in Germany.

Maybe the NFL should consider playing a game in Berlin or Munich (Oktoberfest) or in the Rhine-Ruhr region. Germans are very large people, they love sports and physical fitness, they love beer, and they love organized violence. Football is designed for Germany.

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