We’ve got a guest piece today from Erick Jupp, who gives us an insight to the impact that the NFL’s International Series has had on fans on this side of the Atlantic…
American Football in the UK has been a massive hit and has seen a significant increase in participation and reputation. The NFL has played a pivotal role in this evolving success that has seen an expansion on its fan base in the United Kingdom. In this article, I will be looking at the impact that the International Series has had nationally in the UK and what we can expect in the future.
The NFL is one of the biggest leagues in the United States and has always held a place in the heart of passionate American fans and they always will have the thrill of cheering their team on and hoping that they can make it to the biggest stage that is the Super Bowl. Making the sport international was never in the thoughts of some people. When the news broke that the NFL were going to play some regular season games at Wembley Stadium back in 2007, there was a sense of optimism in the air as to whether or not a sport that isn’t really that well known in the UK, would do well. This was the question in most people’s mind when the international games were announced.
The first ever regular season game to be held outside North America saw the Miami Dolphins take on the New York Giants. Even though the game only finished 13-10 to the Giants, the notable remark came in the tickets sales. The first 40,000 tickets were sold in the first 90 minutes of sales. This showed the NFL the potential success that the sport could have internationally.
Throughout the years, the international series has attracted a consistent amount of fans over the years with all the games attracting 74,000+ attendance, which has highlighted how the fan base has been enjoying the entertainment that the sport has been giving as well as helping increase the overall awareness nationally of a growing sport.
The series had an instant effect on the fan base in the UK, meaning that more people started to watch the sport as well as taking an interest in the game. However, the majority opted to begin playing and expanding their knowledge of the sport across all levels. This had a significant impact on local university and adult teams, who both had a major increase in participation. This had a knock on effect which brought more attention to the uprising game, which increased the amount of content being produced through various sources such as social media, streaming and promoting through numerous platforms.
The future of the NFL in the UK is looking very promising with another four games in London this year. This has directed the NFL to focus its global expansion in potentially running a full time franchise in London. Assuming they have everything in place, this could be done by around 2021. There have been rumours of relocating one of the current franchises, the Jacksonville Jaguars, due to their association with the international series, but their owners are happy with current arrangements that they currently have in place. As well as introducing a new venue in Twickenham Stadium last year, the NFL have also managed to get one of the 2018 games to be played at the Estadio Azteca in Mexico City.
Overall, there is no denying the international series has had an influential impact nationally in the UK in both on and off the field. The statistics aren’t the only figure that has to be looked at when analysing the significant rise in a sport that was previously “unknown” to most people. The promotion of the series has been great in explaining the sport for new people as well as getting them involved in playing the game and getting them attached to it. This can be great in the future as it will not only help people currently playing the sport, but also have an increasing impact on the younger generation and their upbringing to the sport.