Sunday, 28 October 2007

Rugby But With Helmets

So for the first time in history a regular, competitive NFL game was played in London today. Some gang of jokers called the New York Giants against a bunch of wankers called the Miami Dolphins. Yeah, I hadn't heard of either of them either.

(I'm just kidding. When I was a boy a friend of mine got into American football, and his favourite team was the Miami Dolphins, so I had heard of them.)

I watched bits of it. It was...okay. Rugby with helmets, basically, but less free-flowing and consequently much less exciting. During the micro-seconds when they were actually playing the game, rather than standing around with their hands on their hips watching the dozens of referees do stuff, it was fun. I worked out what the whole point of it was, anyway. The main rule seems to be: if something exciting happens, stop.

The differences with rugby are that there are about a billion more players, they don't do nearly as much, you can throw the ball forwards, and you don't have to actually ground the ball to score. Also, for some reason it seems each team is obliged to have one fatso with a big pot belly, who patently has no place on a sports field of any description.

It didn't win me over as a fan, to be honest, but I'll watch any sport quite happily - even curling, for God's sake - so it passed the time. I have to wonder what the purpose of the whole thing was, though. It obviously raised a hell of a lot of money - the 90,000 seater was filled to capacity. But in terms of "growing the game" I think the NFL is on to a loser. We already have two versions of rugby, so the niche that American football occupies in the US is pretty much full to bursting in Britain. It'll always draw crowds because people are curious to see what all the fuss is about, but I think that's the most it can hope for when it comes to expanding its fan base overseas. If any American sport can succeed in the UK it's probably basketball, because it's different enough from our native games that it faces less competition.

That said, cheerleaders I could get used to.


Bilbo said...

American football is popular here because it represents three of the most ingrained parts of American culture: violence, committee meetings, and frantic activity punctuated by periods of utter torpor.

mattiecore said...

It's always interesting to see what folks outside the US think of (our) football.

"Also, for some reason it seems each team is obliged to have one fatso with a big pot belly, who patently has no place on a sports field of any description."

These guys actually play a very important role, and if you're interested enough to know, I can explain.

Andrew Fry said...

My goodness. If you think football is slow, what do you think of baseball? Which is my favorite sport. (I do like curling as well)

In regards to the NFL, my allegiance is to college football, where there is a bit more excitement and movement of the ball.