Blog Entry

Football in Europe

Posted on: October 23, 2009 6:54 pm
There is a lot of talk around the NFL these days about playing more games in London. Currently there is one game a year played in London's Wenbly stadium by teams playing on the east coast, this year its the Patriots vs the Bucaneers. League commisioner Roger Goddell has also stated the probability of having an NFL franchise in London within the next ten years. From what I've heard most people think this is a bad idea, and there are obvious points they have made including:

1. NFL Europe failed fantastically, and they had a team in London
2. It isn't fair to teams in the US that are in the London's team division and have to travel to London once a season, every season
3. Better yet, it isn't fair to players on the London team that have to travel to the US and back on at least eight separate occasions every year.
4. The talent pool for NFL teams is already too thin in both players and coaches for expansion in general to make sense.

Another thing I've heard from most people is that the number of actual NFL fans in England isn't too big, but it does exist.
and what is the biggest sport of all time in England? Soccer! Of course that's soccer to us, football to them.

So what is a special aspect that the English Premier Leage has that no North American sport leagues have? A system of relegation and promotion. Basically, the English Football system has many different leagues with MANY different teams and they are in an order such that if your team wins its league that season, you are promoted to the next higher leage, all the way up to the premier league. If you come in last or are among the last, you get relegated to the league below you.

Of course, this isn't a major reason the English are obsessed with soccer, but its a very interesting concept. It never developed in the United States because sport franchises in North America were created as business investments by individual owners, while the soccer clubs in England and the rest of Europe weren't. The result in America were leagues with set teams with set territories in large cities that received talent through drafts. In Europe, much more emphasis is put on developing youth players rather than sending them through a college system like we do (although we have that aspect somewhat in minor league baseball).

NFL Europe was something of a minor league for the NFL. Several players started over there and became good players in the NFL. Although the intent was on producing an interest in Europe in order to one day place franchises in Europe, that idea clearly didn't work. Having multiple leagues on the other hand, all a part of the NFL, and have a system of promotion and relegation throughout the leagues up to one "Premier League" that plays its championship in the Super Bowl would make that event all the more thrilling. You can then place teams in Europe, and other parts of the world with some NFL interest (such as Mexico) and have them all play for the prize. That system would produce greater interest in those areas of the world and in turn produce more $$$$$ for the NFLs owners. It would even be nice to have an NFL sponsored "Amateur" league that allows anyone create a team in any town in the country and play based on a regional level, with you personally playing in a team that has a chance to move up to higher leagues.

An NFL system based on the English Football system doesn't seem practical, sure, and the owners probably won't ever consisder changing the system that exists now, but hey, these are the Ramblings of a MadMan....

Category: NFL
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