Now that New Jersey has been awarded the Big Game® for 2014, in theory other cold-weather venues might be in play in the future. This morning, Mike & Mike on ESPN Radio were discussing the possibility of an overseas Super Bowl. Greenberg brought up London as a possibility, since there have already been NFL games played there.
Golic was skeptical that American football would catch on overseas to the degree that baseball and now basketball have. I think that he’s right, largely because of two factors: economics and sporting culture.
First, football is a very involved and capital-intensive game compared with others. To play soccer, all you need is a lot, a ball and four rocks for goalposts. Organized football requires quite a bit of equipment, at least 44 players, 5-7 officials, and a grassy field with yard markings. America is a wealthy country, but the only way that most American kids can be involved in football is through a school with an investment in a program. The US has a significant football infrastructure already: junior-high, high school, university, professionals. (This is why hockey has taken a long time to catch on in the US: the costs of equipment and practice time are prohibitively expensive.)
Second, sporting culture is different in other countries, even those that could afford to play football. In Europe, sport is primarily through independent clubs, not through schools. Football is a sport that requires many players to work together in concert, rather than just a bunch of friends in a neighborhood. A local soccer league will be more rewarding in terms of quality of play and exercise than a local football league, which would cost too much and require too much travel for less satisfaction.
What do you think? Could football catch on in Europe, India or the Middle East?