Are you ready for some fútbol?
With the Tampa Bay Buccaneers “hosting” the New England Patriots in London this Sunday, the NFL is looking to see the popularity of our football with English “football” fans. Yes, the English apparently watch some of our American sports too, and this game (the third regular-season game to be played outside of the U.S.) is most likely a test by the NFL to see whether international football teams will be popular.
When I first heard of the Patriots playing in New England, I immediately remembered the Family Guy episode “Patriot Games,” where Peter joins the Patriots, gets fired, joins an English football team and challenges Tom Brady to a game where the Patriots play an English team. Needless to say, Family Guy portrays the English team as a bunch of skinny, “wordy” cowards who get bulldozed by the Patriots. So, if in the future a European football team is created, can they stand up to the massive seasoned Americans? Or are we Americans blissfully unaware of equally powerful rugby players and fast soccer players who are athletically qualified to play our sport?
The overall purpose of these international games is to see if there is a larger international audience that the NFL can tap into to gain more profits. This is probably a response to the United Football League, which plans on having teams in London and Germany. But then again, the UFL is still very new and has nowhere near the audience of NFL games. On the other hand, NFL commissioner Roger Goodell probably wants to see American football have an international presence like baseball or hockey.
Going back to Sunday’s international game, one must wonder how the English will view the game. Many blogs and sports analysts have been polling the audiences and have noticed several factors. To begin with, many people are siding with the Buccaneers simply because they are the underdogs with a worse record. On the other hand, many fans also can’t wait to see Tom Brady in action (last week he destroyed the Tennessee Titans 59-0). It will be most interesting to see how regular soccer fans (who are always depicted as crazy Guinness chugging, uncontrollable maniacs…wait, that sounds like Cubs fans…) will observe the game. Americans love standing behind the field goal waving stuff to distract the kicker, but how will the English react? Will there be a floating beach ball that will cause one of the teams to score (look up Liverpool’s loss to Sunderland last week)?
In the end, the NFL is hoping to bridge the Atlantic gap and see if they can gather more profits from a European audience. As an avid football fan, I realize it does make a large difference where football games are played, and with the NFL having games in international locations (more games have been planned), some teams—especially those with worse records—may complain. However, this Sunday, I can’t wait to see a wild fan painted in Patriot colors running naked across the football field.