Does NFL have its place in Britain?

The National Football League International Season has got off to a flying start, with Wembley Stadium being sold out time and again as British American football fans flock to London.

This year, the International Season kicked off with the Oakland Raiders taking on the Miami Dolphins. The Dolphins walked away victorious on September 28th with 38 points to the Raiders’ 14.

Next up, the Atlanta Falcons will take on the Detroit Lions on October 26th, while the Jacksonville Jaguars will go head to head with the Dallas Cowboys on November 9th.

The NFL International Season has been taking place in London since 2007 and has attracted greater interest year after year. Today, figures from the BBC indicate that 2.8 million people in the United Kingdom say that they are “very interested” in the National Football League, while 4 million tuned in to watch the Seattle Seahawks beat the Denver Broncos at the Super Bowl this year.

Moreover, independent research has shown that 40,000 people aged 16 years and up played American Football once a month – a figure that has doubled since 2010. With so much interest in the sport, it begs the question as to whether or not the NFL has its place in Britain.

The Oakland Raiders versus the Miami Dolphins was a prime example of just how lucrative the National Football League could be in Britain. After the game in London, it was revealed that 83,436 tickets were sold, with spectators paying an average of $160 per head.

However, hardcore fans of the sport condemned the game itself and said that the playing standard was just not up to what they had seen on American soil. Fans described the game as a “blowout” and some even went as far as to say that there have only been three exciting games in the International season since its inauguration in 2007.

Such damning reports do not bode well for a potential London team, which has been in talks for some time now. The 2012 salary cap was a controversial issue for NFL players, and a London team could require a larger salary cap which may not be popular amongst today’s NFL owners.

Despite the masses of crowds flocking to Wembley to watch this year’s international season, a London team could be potentially disastrous for NFL as we know it. The sport works well in Britain as an export of an American product, akin to syndicated television shows, but if we want to keep NFL popular in Britain, we would do well to keep American Football American.