NFL

Why American Football Will Never Be an Olympic Sport

INDIANAPOLIS - JANUARY 24:  Wide receiver Braylon Edwards #17 of the New York Jets is tackled by Kelvin Hayden #26 of the Indianapolis Colts during the AFC Championship Game at Lucas Oil Stadium on January 24, 2010 in Indianapolis, Indiana.  (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)
Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images
Christian AraosContributor IFebruary 26, 2010

Will we see an image like the one above between the U.S. and some other country in the Olympics? The answer to that is unequivocally no. A team USA comprised of the best players in the NFL would utterly destroy all competition. 

It would be the Dream Team times 10.

In 1992, the Dream Team at least had to play opposition who played in decent European leagues. There is farcical leagues and competitions for American football. I once saw a Mexican league game on ESPN Deportes and they couldn't even complete a screen pass. Mexico is one of the biggest followers of the NFL and the NFL knows it. The NFL has offices in Mexico City, actively markets the NFL in Mexico, broadcasts games weekly, and have played regular season games in Mexico City. Yet it isn't yielding dividends.

The NFL also has played regular season games in London but American football in England has as much as chance as curling does here. Despite the sell-out crowd at Wembley, there is strong sentiment that wants the NFL to get out of the Home of Football. We need not look farther than the failure of NFL Europe.

In Europe, the league was unstable (a hiatus and multiple rebrandings in just over the decade NFL Europe lived), un-European (mostly American players looking to develop their skills for hopes of making the bench in the fall), and un-profitable ($30 million in losses per season).

Attendance was poor, averaging under 20,000 in stadiums that held 50,000. These stadiums were built for football, not NFL as shown in how a team in England had to play at White Hart Lane which was, at the time, only 93 yards long. An NFL field is 120. 

In Japan, where the NFL played preseason games as recently as 2005, the quarterbacks "barely reach a wide receiver who is 25 yards away". That observance courtesy of the Japan Times at an NFL-ran clinic for high schoolers.  In comparison, high schoolers here are already able to double that. A testament to the fact that not even the next generation would be competitive. 

American football will always have a following worldwide. However, those who believe that one day it'll be an Olympic sport need a reality check. There's a reason why it's called American football, and it's not because we call football soccer.

It's in the name.

 

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