NFL should forget football in China and try fixing football in America


By Ron Borges

Talk of Fame Network

With declining TV ratings and attendance at home a growing problem in a number of cities whose teams are – my new favorite word – odorous, the NFL has a plan to overcome the problem.

Let’s go play in China!

That’s about as weak a marketing battle plan as one can think of.

According to Mark Waller, the NFL’s executive vice-president of International Whatever, the league’s only concerns with such a game are not about the logistics of staging it but about the potential impact on players after they return to the U.S. According to Waller, the focus is on, “How does a team come back from China and then play and be competitive after a trip like that?’’

Having made that trip a number of times, the answer is: In a week, it won’t be. In two weeks, it might be … but maybe not.

But what the NFL usually does in these international games is to send two teams that aren’t competitive in the first place. So what does it matter? Because what do the Chinese know about pro football, assuming they haven’t hacked Bill Belichick’s e-mails to gain some inside information?

The larger issue for football fans is: When did this become the International Football League?

The NFL can’t sell out games in Jacksonville, San Francisco and, very soon, L.A. if the Rams keep going the way they’re going. So it wants to try China? How about trying to sell tickets in Chinatown first?

The NFL is the only league annually playing meaningful (in theory, at least) regular-season games overseas. When the great soccer teams of Europe come to the U.S. to play, do they put their regular-season games on display? No, they come over to play a “friendly’’ on summer vacations.

That’s what the NFL used to do, too, until some genius decided to screw up the regular season for a couple teams and ship them off to London, Mexico and now, apparently, China? Where next? How about Mars? Then it could call itself the Intergalactic Football League.

We understand that the NFL wants to grow its product and may be starting to feel it’s tapped out in the U.S. Perhaps that’s true. But more likely the problem domestically is that the league spends too much time on marketing and not enough time on football.

Maybe it should start worrying about keeping the fans it already has (a base that, if TV ratings are a reflection, are shrinking), rather than trying to sell the game to a country run by a government that doesn’t believe in unnecessary roughness on its own citizens.

Or it could concern itself more with trying to line a field in Canton, Ohio, to make it possible to play a Hall-of-Fame football game instead of worrying about lining one in Canton, China?


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1 Comment

  1. Rich Quodomine
    October 27, 2016

    I am actually OK with London or China, once a year in each place. The Chinese have been covering the SB since Deng Xiaoping loosed the reins following the death of Chairman Mao. I presume their knowledge of the game is halfway decent at this point.

    You know what waters down the product? Thursday Night. Color Rush. Gimmicks. THursday night particularly bothers me. The teams look unprepared, the games are sloppy, and worse, they put a supposedly special game in mid-week, which I think denatures Monday Night Football. That was the game of the week. Now, it’s a lot of meh. The NFL needs to go back to just one game of the week: Monday Night. Quality games in prime time will mean so much more than where they are played. People buy the NFL because it’s one of the best leagues, quality of sport wise, anywhere. The players are skilled, and there’s no better excitement level in sport over 3 hours.

    However, the NFL must also come to terms with some things: THey don’t have a really great team this year. Even New England isn’t great – they’re best of a very mediocre product this year. Denver? GOod, but not great. Arizona? Meh. And Carolina has gone straight past the toilet and right into the Charlotte municipal sewer system. Josh Norman sends his regards from DC, Carolina.

    As for domestic ratings, I want to see if they rebound after this dumpster fire of an election (which also doubles as entertainment, even if the joke’s on us), and the World Series that is one of the most compelling in ages. If, come November 13th, we have lower ratings for the NFL than the same week, year prior, then Houston, we have a problem.

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