Six hours in a cold London coach station between 2am and 8am gives a lot of time and incentive to reflect upon the decisions you’ve made and what you’ve learnt from making them. Thankfully, when your ‘job’ is a writer, self-reflection is almost the same as work.
One year in to taking a gamble on trying to make a life, and one day a living, waffling about British American Football, I thought I’d share some of the lessons I’ve learnt in a quick mini-series.
Secondly, if you’re a fan of American Football? You’re living in a blessed time for the sport in this country.
Maybe it’s a British thing? Maybe it’s because, as a sporting community, we’ve been burnt before by the boom and bust growth and collapse of the sport in the 80s and 90s? But we’re a cynical bunch and it seems really rather slow to realise just how good we’ve got it.
32 NFL Franchises in 32 cities, each city getting a mere eight regular season home games… And we get four of our very own?
The NFL, the Jacksonville Jaguars, the NFL Players’ Association – we’re seeing a real renaissance in commitment from real game-changing stakeholders to growing the game at the grass roots level in the UK through schemes such as Play 60 and Jag Tag. Yeah, they’ve got something to gain from it too in terms of the financial benefits increasing their fanbase in the UK brings, but having worked with each of these institutions in the past 12 months? Still, at the heart of it, is the same love for the game we, too, share.
At the same time as we’re seeing these potentially game-changing stakeholders invest in the UK game, we’re seeing more and more domestic enterprises step up and aim to contribute to the growth of the game over here – whether it be the guys and gals over at American Football Development Ltd, who are not only helping get football into schools, but also ensuring programmes across the country are able to establish themselves in a sustainable manner and access funding – or the various other enterprises and academies ensuring American Football finds its way into schools so the next generation of Britballers grow up familiar with the game.
Camps, Academies, tournaments, fan events… We need to start realising how good we’ve got it and take more advantage of the opportunities being offered to us before they potentially disappear!
We’ve seen potentially hugely beneficial events cancelled these past 12 months because they simply couldn’t get the sign ups. Sure, the institutions themselves have to take some of the blame, they need to work on the when, the how, the where of their events and activities to increase participation… but at the same time?
If you’ve got a chance to be coached by NFL coaches? A shot to go play and train in Canton, Ohio? An opportunity to meet and speak with people who’ve played this game to the very highest levels? Well, you’re doing yourself a disservice if you don’t take full advantage.