The National Football League is the most popular sports league in America and the only one of the “big four” sports to not have a team in Canada. The National Basketball Association has a team based in Toronto as does Major League Baseball. The National Hockey League currently has seven teams in Canada.
However there has been a lot of talk from the NFL lately about expanding the league geographically. Ever since the 2007 season the NFL has been playing at least one international game in London. And with that one single game comes controversy, complaining, no home-field advantage, and long distance traveling has occurred.
It’s a nice little idea for once a year, but there’s a zero percent chance an NFL team would be stable there long term for many reasons.
The first reason is the most glaringly obvious one, geography. Current teams sometimes struggle when they have to travel from the east coast to the west and vise versa. The largest gap between NFL teams today is between the Miami Dolphins and the Seattle Seahawks at about 3,300 miles. Could you imagine a team traveling across the Atlantic Ocean eight times a year? A west coast team like the San Francisco 49ers or the Oakland Raiders would have to travel well 10,000 miles to London and back.
Even east coast teams face a large burden with this possible expansion. A more than 5,000 mile trip ensues with the most extreme weather conditions these players and coaches will ever see. Safety has to be taken into account as well. As for the team based in London, I can’t imagine they look forward to flying over the Atlantic Ocean eight times every single season.
London Europe? Not a chance geographically speaking.
The second reason is the time. If it’s twelve o’clock noon on the west coast, that means it’s three o’clock on the east coast of America. London time would be eight o’clock at night. The difference between the America’s west coast time and London’s time is an outstanding eight hours. Players might be falling asleep on the field. Doesn’t look like time is on London’s side either.
The third reason is Mexico and Canada. As previously stated our neighbors up north have plenty of major sports teams still to this day. Why travel across the Atlantic when we can set up a stadium in a much more open Canada? I know American Football is not very popular in Canada, but it’s not very popular in Europe either. On October 2, 2005 the Arizona Cardinals and 49ers faced each other in Mexico City, the first ever regular season game outside the United States. This location is much more ideal than London.
Mexico City is roughly 1,000 miles away from Houston Texas, home of another NFL team. Maybe not the most convenient location to verse northeast or northwest teams, but that’s quite a bit closer than London to America.
In the end a London team is a cute little idea but with many more flaws than positive results. Flight times, dangerous weather, and different time zones are too big a restriction. Mexico and Canada would be even better options than the European continent. But for now, let’s keep the National Football League national not international.