Will the NFL Finally Go International?

There has been much debate in recent years about American pro football going international. An NFL attendance record was broken when the San Francisco 49ers faced off against the Arizona Cardinals in Mexico City in 2005, over 103,000 fans were in attendance at Azteca Stadium.

In 2009, the record was broken in Dallas, TX. The first game played in Cowboys Stadium had a crowd of over 105,000. Both were regular season records.

This brings us to the root of the debate. Should the NFL give up home games in order to reach out to a larger base? Rather than trying to persuade you one way or the other, we’re going to look at some facts and then you can make up your mind on your own.

One side of the aisle argues that to take away a home game from a city hurts the fans, and the local economy of the host city. These are the facts: There are only 16 games during a 17 week season. Typically, a team plays 2 home games in the pre-season, and 8 home games in the regular season. It’s not like in the NBA where 82 games are played by each team (half are home games). Taking away one home game from fans is a big deal. It also means less money for local business owners. Keep in mind that a single home game does not only produce an economic boost for one day, it can produce big numbers for several days. The hotel, restaurant and travel industries to name a few would feel the hit. Also, many fans purchase pricey season tickets that allow them admission to every home game.

Those are the facts, but there are other reasons why many fans oppose such a move. Crafting an international connection would be tedious and confusing. An international presence would call for changes, big changes. Other countries would opt into our current system, triggering competition. As American as apple pie? We would have to share our brain child with the rest of the world. For years, football has been a part of our culture. For many Americans, football is even a Christmas and Thanksgiving tradition. The system has never been broken, and Americans like it that way.

On the other hand, there is an argument to the contrary. Many believe that giving the brand an international presence will actually help provide a better experience for the fans and help local economies in the long run. These are the facts: A host city to a high profile sporting event benefits greatly, so if the NFL ever does go international, it would mean that at some point in time, American cities would host other countries. Not to mention the Olympics. The idea of American football being a part of the Winter Olympics has been tossed around for many years.

What good could come out of the United States beating the Ukraine by such a huge margin? I can’t imagine much, but like in pro basketball, other countries would have to catch up. Ask any NFL player if they would like the chance to compete in the Olympics and they would probably tell you to sign them up.

So it comes to this, eventually the powers that be are going to push the issue so far to the front that your opinion will have to matter. Azteca Stadium was not filled with Americans that day. American Football fans from abroad purchased those tickets. I’m sure the NFL took great notes. Ideals count for a lot when it comes to sports, but I’m sure you’ll agree, so does business.