The National Football League has been trying to expand its reach into Europe by hosting games in England, and our own Joe Prince-Wright hit up the Spurs’ training ground as the Buffalo Bills and Tottenham Hotspur hung out with school children as part of the NFL’s “Play 60” campaign.
One of the things discussed: the popularity of the NFL and MLS in Europe. Not surprisingly, television helps.
[ WATCH: Spurs take hits from Bills’ DB Ron Brooks ]
It’s common sense, but when players like Toby Alderweireld — who has played at Saints and Atletico Madrid, too — take at Major League Soccer games, they see the quality and improvement first-hand.
“I watch MLS from America a lot and I am going to watch American sports a lot more. I want to learn more about [American football],” Alderweireld said. “[The Bills players] are very nice guys and I am going to try and follow them more now. Here on television there are now more American sports and people are watching. This is why the NFL comes to London and to Europe, to showcase their sport. It is the same with MLS, which is growing because those games are shown in Europe this year and it makes a big difference. I think it will grow in England.”
Will it? Yes. But grow into something big? Hard to say. While many of us are born American football fans here, it is one of the more difficult sports to learn as a fan, at least in terms of its many, many rules that are enforced in sometimes vague fashion, let alone the stop-start nature of the sport in contrast to soccer.
Although putting a team in London would certainly help to invest to English community in the sport. Perhaps that’s the real move the NFL must make next in order to grow.