The Growth of American Football: How Successful Can the Sport Be Overseas?

Chris JohnsonContributor IIJuly 15, 2009

LONDON - OCTOBER 26: A general view during the Bridgestone International Series NFL match between San Diego Chargers and New Orleans Saints at Wembley Stadium on October 26, 2008 in London, England.  (Photo by Paul Harding - Pool/Getty Images)

Football is no longer just an American sport anymore. With American servicemen playing football on their off time, the game received notice from the people of the countries these servicemen were stationed. American football, or "gridiron football," has been going strong for some time now. Football is being played in several countries around the world.

Here's a list of countries playing (American) football:

American Samoa, Argentina, Austria, Bahamas, Brazil, Canada, Croatia, Costa Rica, Belarus, Belgium, Bulgaria, Chili, Colombia, Croatia, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Great Britain, Greece, Guatemala, Honduras, Hungary, India, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Japan, Luxembourg, Mexico, Moldova, Netherlands, New Zealand, Nicaragua, Norway, Panama, Paraguay, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Russia, Scotland, Serbia, Slovakia, Slovenia, South Korea, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Thailand, Turkey, Ukraine, United States (of course), Uruguay, Thailand, Australia, and Venezuela.

In the not to distant future, the United States will be introduced to just one of the players from Germany who was selected in the second round (58th overall), of the 2009 NFL draft by the New England Patriots. Sebastian Vollmer, who is an offensive lineman, has become the first European-trained player to be drafted. He began his career with the Dusseldorf Panthers (Dusseldorf, Germany). Vollmer played for the University of Houston, and was noticed by the scouts of several NFL teams.

The National Football League has made the claim that they introduced football to the world. When the real trans-Atlantic carriers of the game, was actually our servicemen. However, the NFL failed to keep it's NFL Europa going. NFL Europa was originally thought to expand the game to Europe, gathering it's players from the host countries.

Why did NFL Europa fail? The league was designed to get it's players from the host country. But the original plan changed to only two players from the host country, were on each team. The host country players mostly rode the bench.

If the NFL thought that the plan to incorporate just a few players from the host country would gain them some notice, they did, but in the wrong way. Europeans are like us—if we are not able to watch players from our home country, we’re not inclined to be a part of the game.

The game of football is a unique sport where it's players learn to plan strategies, use tactics, speed, agility, and sometimes brute force to achieve the goal of the game. All human beings have the drive to be competitive; it's just human nature. With the expansion of football around the world, it may not be to long in coming, when others will want to make the sport a national competition.

OK, we know of the NFL and the NCAA, but what about these other (American) football leagues?

Here is a list of leagues:

Italian Football League, International Federation of American Football, Norway American Football Federation, German Football League, Liga Nacional de Futbal Americano (Spain), American Football Bund Osterreich (Austria), Japan American Football Association, British American Football League, Urban Football League (Japan), Norwegian Football League (Norway), Football Americano Argentina (Argentina), Commonwealth American Football League (Bahamas), Associacao de Futebol Americano do Brasil (Brazil), Federacion Mexicana de Futbol Americano (Mexico), Uruguay Football League, European Federation of American Football, Belgian Football League, American Football Croatia, Ceske Asociace Americkeho Fotbalu (Czech Republic), Danish American Football Federation, American Football Association of Finland, Union of American Football of Russia, Central European Football League, Swedish American Football Federation, British American Football League, Israeli Football League, etc.

If the game of American football is on a continued path of growth, it will require further media coverage. Knowledge is key. Though soccer is the world's most popular sport, American football should give it some stiff competition.

Will we see the emergence of a World Super Bowl? Only time will tell.


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