America’s Biggest Game Making Waves in the UK

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By Sean Clark

With the Super Bowl 53 final score now in the books and the New England Patriots champions yet again, America looks ahead to another offseason. While the Super Bowl is a mainstay in American culture, it isn’t the case elsewhere in the world. Times are changing though, and American football is gaining traction expansion happening at both the NFL and at the youth level.

The UK has seen extensive growth in American football, and a large part of that is down to the NFL International games that are staged in London every season. Shown in the image below, from an infographic produced by Jacamo, the NFL has sent over anywhere between one to four games per season, starting in 2007.

Since then, there’s been huge growth in the amount of people attending these games, with the highest attendance figure yet coming in 2017, with a combined attendance of 316,988 over four games. With these games selling out almost instantly, it’s becoming a must attend event for any American football fan in the UK.

Early in 2018, the NFL announced a new 10-year deal with Tottenham Hotspur to host two games per season at their new stadium. While this stadium was delayed, resulting in one less London game this year, it’s now on track for the 2019 season. The new venue even went so far as to incorporate a dedicated NFL pitch below the pitch used for Tottenham’s home games. While it may seem like only a small logistical maneuver, it’s a huge backing of the sport, as the addition shows an expectation that this game will be very relevant in the UK for years to come.

There’s also been large support at the youth level. Universities around the country have been setting up American football teams to compete in the BUCS Championships. 81 teams from around the country compete in three tiers, with constant promotion opportunities for teams that are just starting out. This support and investment at the youth level is extremely important for a growing sport. There’s even opportunities for players to be recognized for their talent and skill to be put forward for the NFL International program, which provides a chance to compete for an NFL team roster spot. As more players show interest and make rosters, the more interest in the sport will increase within the UK.

Now has never been a better time to get involved in American Football and the NFL. Get involved with your local team and get to know the sport. If you’re completely new to the sport, research the teams and then just jump right in. While it may seem confusing at first, nobody is expected to pick up the entire sport instantly.

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