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InterNational Football Leagues Going The Wrong Way?




With so many NFL games being played outside of the teams' home territories, it baffles me that the league is incapable of extending the number of games played during the regular season. I know the excuses made about the game being dangerous and NFL players being tired. But the NHL seems to be countering that case for the NFL. Even still, with football being a team sport, I see no reason to believe fans shouldn't be able to get a bigger picture of who plays on their favorite teams. If players are concerned about their safety, then they can be limited to a specific maximum of games played (giving players a full week off work even from practice) while the teams still provide quality football for their fanbases. The fans have been loyal and deserve at least ten good home games each year.

Yet the NFL in its desperation for expansion had success by playing regular season games in foreign territories. I will admit this went against my expectations. I thought it would be a failure in the long run based on my assumption of how Americans are viewed internationally. It turns out people like us better than we think they do. Now that I read it like that, I realize how common it is for Americans to be appreciated more than we tend to think.

Still, I think league officials are making an ethical and professional mistake. In a time of portraying itself as opposing racism, the league's plans for expansion seem to go into the direction of "white" nations. Europe is low-hanging fruit for money. But low-hanging fruits are closest to the worms.

The NFL irked me lately in moving their teams to big cities that are already excessively populated and have too much to do. Yes there are a lot of people in cities. But these people are often easily bored, difficult to please, and already have a lot to do with their limited time. In a way, the NFL is risking being an enabler of Karenopolises. If the league wants to reach an untapped market, they may want to consider areas where they could be the initiator of metropolises. Businesses rise and come to Nebraska, Alabama, or North Dakota, because that is where an NFL team is. What a story that would be rather than "hey look another rich guy in LA having a strong career moment!"

Internationally, the NFL is reaching a market that already has a strong sports culture instead of going to places that could use a strong sports culture. Europe already imports soccer players and hockey players. I'm by no means against playing football in Europe. I just would rather see some more diversity in the athletic pool in Africa and the Middle East.

Sports culture can have a great impact on helping other communities that need it. The NFL can be part of a change and make a lot of power through influence and love for other cultures. This is a big opportunity to do what the NFL wants to do, which is to invoke change throughout the world. To push for this change at a time when Jim Thorpe's Olympic Medals are finally acknowledged would be a great opportunity for the league as well.

So what if plans for London and Berlin in the 23 season were shifted to Kabul and Kazungula? (To play a football game in a place called Kaz would warm my genealogically Polish heart.) Sure Europe is excited for football too. We should have some activity there. But I think a better starting point would be to go where the product is needed first. Where we are needed is where we can be appreciated.

Now of course there are risks to going to places that may be dangerous for various reasons. They have spiders in Australia. They have violence in certain nations. There are tigers in some countries. There are sharks in waters. There are sandstorms in deserts. There is frigid cold in Antarctica. They have white people everywhere. But consider this. One of the greatest moments in sports history was when Muhammad Ali and George Foreman went to Zaire for the Rumble in the Jungle. Why did we stop going? It seems to me because we want comfort more than we want culture.

I know this isn't much of a Carolina Panthers story. So I want to end by extending my appreciation for those Carolina Panthers that have contributed to overseas efforts through their charities. With USO tours, defensive linemen Kawann Short and Michael Rucker have visited military bases. Rucker went to Afghanistan (right before I got there so I was stuck having to see Drew Brees instead of a real winner because the military moved too slowly to get me there). KK went to Germany (not sure if that's helping my point at all). In 2017, safety Mike Adams visited a South African orphanage.

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