The NFL’s Rapid International Expansion


Years ago, I was excited to watch NFL Europe on TV. Actually, one of my neighbors had a grandson, from Los Angeles, who played for the Rhein Fire. I also played Madden football on my Playstation, which had an NFL Europe game mode. I thought the NFL was ready to expand. Until 2007. The NFL still plays multiple annual games in Europe.

I love football, I started playing when I was 8. I also love soccer, and I started playing that when I was 11. I have always been confused why one of the most industrially developed and diverse countries in the world, the United States of America, did not embrace the number one sport in the world, soccer. And why the USA’s number one sport (arguably), football, was not embraced around the world. Our national teams, represented in the World Cup, only get attention for a few months, every four years. This has been confusing to me for a while. Almost every other sport has international stars that become household names in America. Maybe things are changing for American football, quickly.

There was a time when international soccer players were being converted to place kickers in the NFL. Now, the NFL is seeing international players at skill positions. In 2013, there were 10 foreign-born players drafted into the NFL. The sport is appearing to take hold internationally, among both men and women. In 2013, the International Federation of American Football held the Women’s World Championship in Finland. Six teams competed in this tackle-football tournament; Spain, Sweden, Finland, Canada, Germany, and the U.S.A.

Football is a sport that needs lots of practice to play. The opportunity to play at an early age will allow for more time to enhance the skills necessary to play at an elite level. Now we should see more foreign-born coaches and referees as well. For the brief time it lasted, NFL Europe planted the seeds. Around the world, American football is growing. Maybe now we will see more opportunities for NFL to thrive in Europe again.

*The above post does not represent the opinions of the Department of Kinesiology, Health, and Sport Studies nor does it represent the opinions of Wayne State University. It is a student perspective piece and should be viewed as such*


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