The premier league of American Football (AF), called the National Football League (NFL) has been trying to wrest fan support in Europe away from our beloved local sports. In England no other sport commands undying fan support as football. Or does it? Can AF ever make such deep inroads into the sporting psyche of Europeans generally or we Britishers specifically that it endangers the health of our games? The NFL already plays a small number of games in Britain every year.
The quick and true answer is emphatically NO! In fact, there is a kind of sporting pursuit that might take enough revenue from our football leagues that they will have to “make adjustments”. This so-called sporting activity is playing video games and especially casino online games.
Two Tries: No Wins
The NFL has already made two major forays into the European spectator sport market. The first was called the World League of American Football. This league lasted five seasons in the early 1970’s. From 1998 until 2006, another league, NFL Europe, played a truncated schedule in a few European cities. This league held more promise and two star quarterbacks became known to the NFL because of their excellent play in NFL Europe: Kurt Warner and Jake Delhomme.
In the end, this league ran out of money and folded in 2006.
Real Football Prevails
There are four basic reasons why AF will never replace our brand of football.
- Very few young kids play AF in Britain or Europe. Youngsters play football, basketball, hockey, and many other sports but not AF. There are no coaches of any prominence in Europe teaching AF. We know that people must start playing and being coached at a very young age to be able to succeed at a high level as adults. AF cannot compete with many other sports in Europe.
- AF is far more violent that our football. The number of severe injuries is astronomical in AF. Head injuries, especially, cause much long-lasting deterioration of brain function. Even with a medieval knight’s array of protective equipment, AF players suffer devastating head, knee, and leg injuries. Because of the dangers inherent in the uber-violent AF brand and growing public awareness of it, there is a dramatic drop in young boys playing AF in American high schools. Without these players, college football will wither and the NFL itself may be doomed.
- Real football has nearly non-stop action. AF has nearly non-stop inaction. When there is action in AF, it is truly exciting but each “play” lasts only a few seconds. Then the players gather for a meeting and run another play. Only someone who truly loves this game can so much as like it. Despite the enormous violence, the clear athletic skills of the players, and the occasional great play, the game is, to be nice about it, deathly boring.
- Real football has better rules than AF. The rules are designed to even the field between a team with greater talent and a team with merely average talent. The grand offside rule keeps the best strikers at bay and forces them to score by guile and skill not brute force. In AF brute force often wins from the outset. In fact, a recognized and much-honored type of strategy in AF is called smash mouth football.
Can Football Withstand Casinos?
Having said all this about AF, why do we think that online casino games may make serious inroads into the primacy of football?
People like to stay home. The convenience of being able to gamble at home, on the road via mobile casinos, or whilst one is in a queue somewhere means inevitably to money going from football to casinos. As this money has already been earmarked as “entertainment” in the greater picture it doesn’t matter where the money is spent. But it does matter to football clubs.
Slots are also very entertaining in their own right. Modern slots have themes that keep players’ interest piqued for a long time. The return to player rate is also very high at online casinos. All this means that our football clubs must do better at branding and marketing their respective brands.
Faith and Optimism
We’re quite sure that football will weather the competition from both AF and online casinos—the former, easily, and the latter with continuing great football play at all levels.