According to the Reuters news agency, the National Football League is beefing up its efforts to spread American football to foreign fans.
The NFL created an international division in 1996. So far they've played regular season games only in Great Britain, Canada, and Mexico; but unless the league fumbles with its renewed mission, that's going to be the tip of the iceberg.
Several things fuel the NFL push. First, of course, is the desire for the Almighty Dollar, evidenced by clandestine plans to sell lucrative monsoon-season tickets. ("Extra charge if you want a homing device on your seat.") They are also jealous of the worldwide appeal of soccer. And there is the innate human drive to want everyone to appreciate the same things you appreciate, as when you want everyone at the intersection to acknowledge that your favorite guitarist is a god, or when you want your Significant Other to agree that there should be a special Oscar category for movies dependent entirely on flatulence jokes.
The campaign would go much faster if American NFL players could do a better job of public relations. ("Ever since I was a lad participating in the Punt, Pass, and Kick program, my dream has been to play football in a country where they drink warm beer and drive on the wrong side of...Aw, man! Even I ain't had enough concussions to read this garbage!")
Numerous logistical and cultural problems loom, but the NFL salivates over the potential lucrative audience in Asia, for example. Yeah, the People's Republic of China -- there's a society just made for American gridiron action. All communications between players in the huddle would be censored. The 50-yard line would be the 50-tank line. And American officials would be bombarded with questions such as "Are you sure there's not supposed to be lead paint on the football????"
What if Jamaica fielded an NFL team? The specialist-dependent American teams might come away ashamed. ("Hey, mon -- what you mean you just play defense? Me, I play defense AND offense and referee and sell programs and operate de camera and den I arrest my own sorry butt for shooting up a night club with my hoodlum posse. You lazy lima bean!")
Even in laid-back Australia, misunderstandings would create animosity. ("No, he's not doing an endzone dance. He's trying to shake a dingo off his leg!") In Greece the currency would be devalued six times during the coin toss. In Switzerland Americans would be perplexed by fans painting their faces with clear paint. ("Just trying to remain neutral.")
Iranian NFL officials would provoke all sorts of United Nations sanctions. ("Do not worry, infidel. In our practice sessions we use clotheslining and unnecessary roughness for peaceful purposes only.") The French players would take a three-week vacation between plays (and yet somehow get back before the review of the tape finished). In certain coastal areas, the NFL would face the embarrassment of the record for interceptions being held by Somali pirates.
Despite my trepidations, they just might spread the American football gospel to the rest of the world. I anticipate the players showing up for their first game in Spain. ("Listen to the thunderous applause of the fans." "That doesn't sound like applause. It sounds more like hooves!" "Travelocity tried to warn me something about Pamplona, but I hung up. Run!!!!")
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