The NFL is expanding its international reach. London will no longer be the only non-American location to host a game. That’s right, the National Football League is planning a regular season contest in China. The match is slated for 2018, with the Los Angeles Rams facing the San Francisco 49ers. What does this mean for the future? Should we be excited or skeptical? Here is everything you need to know about the big move to the big east.
The league has been trying to pull this off for a while now. Back in 2007, they had plans for game in Beijing that never materialized. This second attempt seems like it will happen. Owners hope this will unlock a whole new demographic of fans and create new revenue streams for the franchises. There is a clear push by the NFL to broaden into the world market. There will be another three games played in London this year plus one in Mexico. Interest is growing globally. Reports are that Germany would love to host an NFL game so who knows, maybe we can add Berlin to the list in a year or two.
Not everyone is thrilled about the developments. Many players and coaches have spoken up about their displeasure. The main complaint being that the increased travel is really taxing. And squads who aren’t made to leave the states may have an advantage in the long run. Teams always get their bye week after playing in London but what about the fact that one side is losing a home game? From the management side, I could see how the showcase is worth the opportunity but from a local fan perspective, I totally understand the frustration. What if you have season tickets? You just lost one of eight home games. That’s not nothing. Plus, the foreign kickoffs are always 6am or something even less convenient. Expand the league but not at the direct cost of the diehards.
Like all things, this boils down to dollars. Players want bigger contracts and the league wants more money. Adding new countries of viewers will pay for all that. The travel may be rough but for the amount of cash these guys are making, it shouldn’t be an issue. So whether or not you like the idea, it is here to stay. The NFL will have more and more events overseas. Maybe all as lead up to London or Beijing getting a permanent team.
Look at hollywood. Blockbusters are making huge box office waves in Asia. In some cases, the movies make more money in China than they do here. And the industry is adjusting because of it. The NFL is following this model. They see the capital and the potential that the Chinese market has to offer and they are pouncing on it. We need to start learning to play nice and share the game. It’s going global with or without you so just get onboard now.
The world of old school pig skin is not dying but changing. It’s getting bigger, and faster. More mechanized, more advertised and more publicized. New rules that favor higher scoring make a better product to sell. Roger Goodell will do anything he can to increase the popularity of the sport. To any new Chinese football fans, I say welcome and are you ready for some football?