I sure have enjoyed these last five days, living the daily newspaper life vicariously through this Web site. I hope it’s been good for you as well.
The problem was that I didn’t know what topic to end this marathon on? I batted around a couple of ideas, like if Nick Saban’s criticism of Alabama fans was fair, or whether or not God hates the Dallas Cowboys.
But the minute I read this headline from ProFootballTalk.com – “London Super Bowl in 2017?” –I knew I had my answer. I was going to end this thing like a patriot.
Now, I admit that I’m one of those guys that dabbles in hyperbole on a fairly regular basis. Its just part of my personality, I suppose. Hang around me long enough and you’ll probably hear me refer to “the most ridiculous thing I’ve ever seen” at least three or four times per day. During the last election cycle, that number would increase fivefold.
But when it comes to the Super Bowl in London, would you not consider that a legitimate contender for the most ridiculous thing you’ve heard in quite some time? I certainly do, and here’s why.
First, the economic impact of the Super Bowl would be much more beneficial remaining in between our borders rather than exported overseas. Studies show that the game can pump as much as $500 million into a local economy, which is money that we need in our coffers in the midst of this economic recession. I’m sure they’re feeling the pinch in London as well, but hey, when times are tough, you’ve got to look out for No. 1.
What would $500 million mean to Detroit or New Orleans, two cities struggling to maintain a semblance of normalcy despite consistently playing against a stacked deck? Both cities host NFL franchises. Both have Super Bowl-ready venues, lodging and transportation. Both have hosted the game in previous years with great success. Both would love to hear some good news.
And hey, there are cities besides Detroit and New Orleans that need some love and have the appropriate venues/climate for a Super Bowl. Los Angeles, San Diego, Miami, Atlanta, St. Louis, Jacksonville, Houston, Dallas…Pick one and keep the tax dollars here.
Second, moving the league’s biggest game more than 3,500 miles (or 5,500 kilometers) away from our shores is a slap in the face to each and every NFL season ticket holder and fan, who invests billions each year in tickets, merchandising and other paraphernalia relating to the NFL experience. It’s already hard enough to score a ticket for the Super Bowl – the average StubHub.com ticket price last year was $2,790 per seat – but imagine paying that and tacking on travel expenses to London.
Right now on Expedia.com, the cheapest hotel and flight package available (booked for early February 2010, three nights) was $1,025 per person. Of course there’s food, transportation and entertainment to factor in as well. In the end, two Americans traveling to a London Super Bowl would drop roughly $9,000 on the experience. And that’s dollars we’re talking about, not Euros or pounds. I’m not even going to speculate as to how that’s bound to hurt your bottom line.
Third, the Brits (as a whole) are just not fond of our football, in the same way that we’re not fond of theirs.
Let me make this personal for you here: Months ago I made it my mission to convince my wife that the TV show Aqua Teen Hunger Force was funny. If you haven't seen the show, stay up late one night and check it out on [adult swim]. It's good stuff. But you couldn't convince my wife of that.
The thing is, she was similarly skeptical of King of the Hill and Family Guy at the beginning as well, but over time grew fond of them both. I naturally figured that we'd go through a trial period with the Force before she eventually got the joke and we could move on. But it wasn't happening; she just wouldn’t give it the time of day. And whenever I’d press her for an excuse, she’d tell me that ATHF doesn’t make any sense.
Well what the hell makes sense about Family Guy, I asked her? Why can’t you accept that this is a natural evolution of the surreal cartoon humor invented by Tex Avery decades ago, I asked her? Nothing. Stalemate. And Squidbillies only made it worse. We argued about it for months until finally I just cut my losses and gave up the fight.
If only we would do the same in our effort to convince the Brits to enjoy our football.
We tried the World League in the early 1990s, NFL Europe after that and finally NFL Europa; none of it caught on. The rest of the world, including the British, thinks American football is too slow, preferring the non-stop action of soccer instead. Americans generally think soccer is too boring, primarily because of the low scoring. So why can’t we just accept our likes and dislikes and move on? Because the NFL is trying to make money overseas, of course.
Opening up the league to a new fan base would be an economic boon, there’s no doubt. But doing so at the expense of alienating the league’s fans in America is hardly a trade worth executing. To pull the game of the year away from a rabid fan base at home in favor of a lukewarm-at-best fan base overseas makes no sense. Instead of working to establish ties abroad, the NFL should work to expand its reach into states like Alabama, where folks overwhelmingly prefer college to pro football.
In the end we know that the Super Bowl, for all the price gouging and over-the-top hype and pageantry, is the quintessential American event. It’s the perfect combination of everything our society craves: rampant commercialism, star-power, drama, lip-synched pop tunes and violence. We simply cannot outsource it in favor of the bottom line like we did our automotive and steel industries.
So I end this five-column marathon with my second reference to Network’s Howard Beale. This is a call to action for football fans from shore-to-shore and border-to-border. I give you the email address of Greg Aiello, the senior vice president of communications for the NFL: Greg.Aiello at nfl.com. If you think America’s game should remain in America, you’ll let him know.
And just be glad I didn’t ask you to send a telegram to President Ford.