Why I Love The World Baseball Classic, and the NFL Should Too
And I'm not just saying that, either.
I do believe that in order for professional sports to continue to succeed, they must grow their brands, and dare I say it, globalize.
In previous decades, American fans could believe that the best team in the US was also the best team in the world.
Whine, cry, and whimper all you want, the reality of sports has been that as the national economies have grown and those countries become more economically stable, it often has followed that the nation's passion for more sports does too.
That is not to assert that I know there's a direct correlation between the economic status of a country and that nation's love for sports, but typically (not always), the more stable a country is, the more it usually means the nation will love sports.
Some countries that are economically less developed still love sports, but don't contend internationally or play mostly one sport such as futbol.
I do think it's inevitable for other parts of the world to start loving sports more extensively, and to play for pride, and that American fans should move away from an isolationist mentality that all the best players of the world only play in the same country.
I also believe that the only healthy way to channel national angst against countries you dislike is through sports.
Sports have always been an allegory of war. No one dies though, but the people involved channel their passions as if it were a matter of life or death.
And that's why I love the World Baseball Classic. Perhaps, the American players will eventually learn to have a sense of pride, when they've had their steroid-filled hands out for too long.
The WBC is something that needed to happen, albeit I would tweak it somewhat.
I would rather see the WBC take place after the "World Series" rather than during Spring training,
I would even go so far as to say that the NFL should do the same thing. The NFL wants to grow its brand by tacking on the Super Bowl in London, playing games overseas, etc.
If the NFL wants foreigners to love American-style football, then the NFL should make it a matter of national pride, rather than just one game in which you hope that the excitement of that game diffuses to the fans in London.
I say that because the NFL runs the risk of alienating American fans who can't travel to London.
NFL Europe flopped because the Europeans knew they were watching the worst players of the NFL. I'd like to see an International Football Conference that includes NFL caliber players.
But instead of playing the US teams during the regular season, the best team of the International Conference would challenge the winner of the Super Bowl.
That probably sounds like NFL heresy, but I do believe that if Commissioner Roger Goodell wants to grow the NFL, he needs to be more creative than just giving the Super Blowl to some country that doesn't really care.
So make 'em care.
And after all, Al Davis may as well be a third world dictator of a banana republic.
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