The NFL is coming to London, but what is it achieving? The game will be a sell out, but as with the NBA and the NHL, the games seem to attract attention because of the global fascination with American sports, or more, the American fanaticism for sports that no-one else really cares for.
I consider myself a sports fan and can happily watch a competitive game of nearly anything, race walking is a clear exception, but what is the purpose of putting a single game in Europe.
At the moment, it provides a respite for jaded football (soccer) fans and gives loose followers like myself a chance to catch up on what has happened in the season.
With the incredible parity between clubs in NFL, unless you are taking an avid interest in each game in the season it is all a bit confusing to know who is on top of the divisions from year to year.
Added to that, the ability of one franchise to merge or move off the landscape from year to year completes a circle of reasons why it is difficult to follow the game from outside the states.
Not that I would want the parity of teams any other way. It is a long-held problem that in the English Premier League soccer (I will call it soccer for benefit of the article) is dominated by a few clubs, which although marginally changing from year to year, have more or less been established at the top end of the ladder come the end of season.
While this has become a source of frustration for supporters of other clubs outside this elite group (essentially Manchester United, Chelsea, Liverpool, and Arsenal), it has allowed supporters from all over the globe to tap into the competition, to have a team that will not only be successful, but most likely at the top end of the table come the end of year and always likely to be shown on foreign televisions for the big matchups.
There is always a place for the casual observer who can say, “I support Manchester United,” knowing that they will be established somewhere near the top of tables, even if that supporter hasn’t followed the game for some time.
So, I guess while the NFL has successfully levelled the playing field, allowing each club to truly believe that they can have success the following year, from an outsider's perspective, it actually makes it more difficult to follow. The amount of time and interest needed to absorb the whole competition can be overwhelming.
San Diego and New Orleans? I am sure it will be great, but I hope the NFL isn’t hoping for a massive new flock of "convertees."