The NBA and NHL have just crowned their champions – congratulations to the Miami Heat and Los Angeles Kings, respectively – and the American sports scene has entered its annual dry spot where there’s nothing but MLB baseball and WNBA basketball on TV. Consequently, the sports media has resorted to prematurely thrusting the NFL into the headlines.
And I always take the bait.
The other day, I was listening to all the talking heads on ESPN preview quarterbacks, make predictions and so on. Then I heard talk about the NFL possibly putting a team in London. New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft, who seems to be spearheading the movement for an NFL expansion overseas, hopes the league has a team there before the end of the decade.
You’ve got to be kidding me.
Proponents of NFL expansion point to the success of the annual game in London’s Wembley Stadium (the contest has been close to a sellout each of the past five years) as evidence that the city can support a franchise. However, this can be a misleading statistic. Sure, the NFL can sell out one game in London every year, but what about eight games over the course of multiple seasons? Are the 80,000-plus people in the stands fans or spectators? Fans come to every game, every year. Spectators come once or twice, just to see what it’s all about – kind of like when the circus is in town.
Despite what Kraft and the other NFL big wigs may think, England already has its own professional football. It’s called the English Premier League. If the situation was reversed and the EPL was expanding to the U.S., I would absolutely attend one or two games to experience what a high-level soccer match was like. Would I be a repeat customer? I doubt it.
One or two games in London every season is cute, but that’s about it. The NFL is called American football for a reason. Let’s keep it that way.
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