As we wave goodbye to the FIFA World Cup, vuvuzelas and the other sport called football, we say hello to the football we come to love and the tailgates, awwww the NFL. It is unofficially the #1 sport in America in many’s minds. Every Sunday, we have the most passionate fans flock to stadiums see their teams or gather around their freshly minted plasma TVs just like every almost fan of a World Cup team did in South Africa. Every game felt like a Super Bowl, the crowd, the intensity, the close plays, the referees, the media coverage but here in the United States when seem to be on the other side of the mirror as we see soccer as a sport that isn't really big and for many reasons such as, barely any home grown superstars, barely any scoring, and barely any teams to cheer on with the MLS having just over half as manyy teams as the NFL. Here we seem to embrace the fact that we have multiple superstars on various teams and that these superstars are vital to putting up points on the board or keeping them off. This all is great but when looked upon It seems as though we have too many cookies in one jar and not more around the world. Soccer is a global sport because it is played in many countries, baseball comes in at second, with basketball not too far off. These sports are often played at the Olympic level but the Olympics sort of gives the cold shoulder when it comes to soccer and baseball since they have their own versions of games which are looked at a lot bigger (FIFA and WBC). Football, which lags around the world, can't write its own chapter in international competition as of now.
Commissioner Roger Goodell made the decision to shut down NFL Europe a few years ago because it wasn't a big interest and for good reason, I as a fan of the Miami Dolphins could care less about these phony teams across the Atlantic. Goodell has flirted with getting a team in London in recent years since the annual "Across the Pond" Bowl has arrived and seems to be on the right track in terms of getting a team there in say 10-20 years but the bottom-line is you can't limit yourself to one city in one country for years and years. There are plenty of other country's to consider for foreign markets, how about Japan or China? They have basketball, soccer, baseball, but where's the football? How about Dubai? They have suddenly evolved as an attractive spot for honeymoons and jaw-dropping sights but of course they currently lack a stadium as of now but are sure to get one soon as they have a “Dubai Sports City” under construction. South Africa? They just hosted a World Cup and we’ll have plenty of empty stadiums until the next one, might as well take advantage. The list goes on and on and there are plenty of things that can be done to expand.
As commissioner you do have to worry about more important things, such as, staying on top of Michael Vick and every other misstep an NFL player takes every other week or the impending lockout and getting that sorted out before you even consider such of move. But once that’s settled then what? Goodell should focus on expanding the NFL so that one day the football can also challenge its doppelganger soccer in World competition. Just think how epic the Super Bowl is here on Sundays in early February; well imagine a stage as big as the world watching perhaps over a billion viewers. It is a dream right now must also consider about its other alternatives for improving the sport. There has been talk about a minor league NFL or the NBA’s version of a D-League but that I’ll never happen, injury concerns and NFL coaches would be too involved in how the player is being used. 18 games? Not bad, more action which could pave the way for more neutral matchups perhaps in other countries.
I hope you aren’t tossing around the Canadian Football League or Arena Football league which are, in my opinion, bootleg representations of the sport but a foreign league, that stays true to the same rules of the NFL would not be a bad idea. You can start by establishing teams in Tokyo, London, Dubai, South Africa, Brazil, Amsterdam, Australia, and so on. You could create an alternate league and have these cities bid for another way to get a profit; of course, these must also groom their talent years in advance before they shell out billions to get a team out there to compete. Instead of waiting a dreadful and wasteful four years to see international competition at its best, I believe we could see an annual event like the Super Bowl where the winner of the Super Bowl plays the International Bowl and plays in, “The World Bowl” in a host city, neutral from the two winners countries. It might be World Cup-isque but I’d never think to have qualifying or anything like that because it just won’t happen with players not wanting to even play in OTA’s and GM’s worrying about injuries and also especially because why would you have America compete for a spot in the sport they invented? Quite simply, have the Super Bowl winner face against the International winner in the “World Bowl” and it will be just as sweet. No waiting almost a half decade to watch our teams play again and its reminiscent of the Plus One system the BCS has been rumored to add to their games only this one takes two different flavors and pits them together like strawberry and Pepsi. In other words, it’s the NFL versus the IFL (International Football League), I see it now but does Roger Goodell?