Monday, July 02, 2007

Football News

A reader added a comment to my "Sea Devils" posting informing me that the National Football League (NFL) announced that it was closing their "NFL Europa" European football division. I had actually read this news the day after my Sea Devils posting. The article I read noted that NFL Europa was started in 1991 and to date had lost $400 million. I still remember the "World Bowl" party I had with friends in Des Moines, Iowa in 1991 -- I was excited to see the expansion into Europe while I suspect my friends enjoyed having another reason to get drunk.

So the NFL has retired from Europe where the vast majority of its teams were based in Germany - home to thousands of US military troops who have had a presence in that country for nearly 60 years - thus providing a natural fan base for NFL Europa. However, this international expansion experiment failed only to be replaced with the NFL setting its sights on the People's Republic of China ("Red China" for my fellow Cold War warriors out there).

Yes -- mei shi gan lan qiu -- which is "football" in Chinese the news reports tell us. The NFL's China presence is very small compared to their splash into Europe in 1991. So far NFL-China consists of a 5,000 player flag football league for school-age players, a weekly telecast of one NFL game on the state-run CCTV, and having the Super Bowl watched by 10 million viewers (out of China's 1.3 billion population).

The NFL is perhaps the best managed money machines of all the professional sports leagues in the USA so how they develop the Chinese market will be well worth watching. From China let me make an abrupt segue to a much more local football news story. This past weekend the "Minnesota High School All Star Football Game" was played. What I find most interesting about this game is that it matches the "Metro all stars" against the "Outstate all stars" not a North-South or an East-West split but instead the "kids from the city playing against the kids from the small towns and farms.............."

Now that makes for an interesting match up which currently has the Metro all stars winning 14 and the Outstate all stars winning 15 games since this series began.

Good luck to these recent high school graduates as they seek careers on and off the gridiron.


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