Last season the Chargers and Saints played an overseas regular season game in London. It was very well received as the stadium was sold out well in advance of the October matchup. This season the Patriots and Bucs head across the water in October. The league is considering adding a 2nd overseas game to the schedule by 2010.
While some fans are opposed to seeing their team make lengthy trips and/or lose a home game because of it, I’m a huge fan of the NFL’s effort to globalize the sport. As long as we continue to give these teams a bye week after their trip, there’s really no problem with it. I wouldn’t mind if the Broncos had to forfeit one of their home games to play overseas. You’re basically playing on neutral ground over there and your team gets recognized by a larger group of people.
Don’t get me wrong – soccer and rugby matches will probably still dominate the local pubs the day the game is played, but bringing a little bit of an American Sunday tradition to another part of the world is remarkable. I would actually love to have a Manchester United and Liverpool match played right here in the U.S. I don’t watch soccer (or football if you prefer) on T.V., and I haven’t played since the days when your dad coached your team, and you got juice boxes and cookies at the end of the game, but to have two great soccer teams make an appearance on my turf would be great. I think it would bring the sports world together and promote a mutual respect for two (or more) cultures’ sporting traditions. If you like this idea, check out Dhani Tackles the Globe on the Travel channel. Dhani Jones (NFL pro) tackles each country’s national sport and explores how the sport defines the culture.
What do you think about the NFL’s efforts to globalize football?