The impracticality of the NFL in London
We all have that friend who came back from study abroad just a little bit too Euro.
It’s the same friend that doesn’t shut up about their time in Europe and pretends they never left.
And maybe that friend has plans to live across the pond permanently.
But us fans who have welcomed the NFL into our lives every fall have seen our beloved old friend that is football make a similar transition.
It seems that year after year the NFL develops an even larger fascination with the market in the United Kingdom.
This season’s two NFL games at London’s Wembley Stadium have been sellouts. The NFL International Series is a colossal money-maker.
As a result, the NFL has extended their contract to play at least two games at Wembley until 2020. In addition, they have agreed to play at least one game each season at the English Premier League’s new Tottenham Stadium from 2018 to 2028.
That is all fine and dandy, but it is slowly reaching the point on the NFL’s agenda where they should quit pushing. Each year, the NFL’s interest in London reaches new heights.
Questions are asked such as: How about a team plays two CONSECUTIVE games in London?
Or the big one: how about a franchise moves to London permanently?
The NFL’s executives need to stop kidding themselves and realize that certain problems, logistical and otherwise, will not go away in this matter.
Let’s not forget that London has a five-hour time difference from the East coast of the United States. Last Sunday’s Jaguars-Bills game kicked off at 9:30 AM ET.
This is an inconvenience for both fans and players.
Teams playing an away game will typically travel to that location two days in advance. Asking players to adjust to the time difference in such a short period of time is unreasonable and potentially dangerous.
The trans-Atlantic flight itself is a recipe for sleep-deprivation, and to add jetlag on top of that will produce fatigued players.
This effect works both ways. If an NFL team were based in London, those players would be forced to deal with this at least eight times a season for their games on American soil preceded by trans-Atlantic trips.
The effect would be even worse when a game involves a team from the West coast, where the time difference is eight hours.
Aside from logistics, NFL games in London are hilariously regarded by the people and media alike in the UK.
In an article published this week, a UK-based newspaper The Guardian called the NFL International Series a “fist-bumping, XXL jersey-over-hoodie wearing, Lite beer slurping experience.”
Many stereotypes that foreigners draw about America are highlighted by something as extravagant as a live NFL game.
The same article even doubted that the average Brit could name a single NFL player.
A large reason that these games are so well received in London is because Londoners can experience a staple in American culture first-hand, right in their backyard. The NFL is in the process of riding this effect out until the novelty wears off.
But it will wear off eventually.
Halloween is great since it’s once a year. And no one complains about going to two or three Halloween parties and celebrating a few times per year. But if Halloween were 16 times a year, even kindergarteners would get a little tired of trick-or-treating after night five or six.
The NFL cannot expect the same kind of continued success in the long-run across the pond.
Not every game can be a sellout.
The push to base a team in London by the end of their international campaign is both extremely rushed and naïve.
Snap out of it, NFL. After next Sunday, you’re back in America for the rest of the season. Lose the fake accent and act like your real self: An American sport that simply vacations abroad once a year.