By Kevin T. Ferguson, Assistant Layout Editor
Murmurs of an overseas Super Bowl have been spreading throughout the sports community as of late. The Super Bowl, America’s most iconic sporting event, has never been held outside the country. This historic move by the NFL could look like a positive on the surface, but will more than likely bring its fair share of negativity. The following are the “Good, Bad and Ugly” takes from the idea of a Super Bowl being held across the pond.
NFL commissioner Roger Goodell has long wanted to expand his league to London. If an expansion were to happen in 2022, London hosting a Super Bowl would be a strong marketing move for the league. The overseas hype could help to garner a stronger global audience. If a London Super Bowl were to be successful, it could mean more destination games in future years. Destination games could create even more of an international buzz and be a major positive for the league.
Furthermore, a focus on the future of the league could shake things up, taking attention away from “knee-gate” and the negative impact all the “who can kneel, who should stand” business that has plagued the league over the past two seasons.
Hosting a Super Bowl outside the U.S. will benefit expansion goals, but the hard truth is there will be a negative impact on the league’s target demographic. The time difference alone is the most prominent hindrance on Americans who love the Super Bowl. With a five hour difference between London and New York (Eastern Standard Time), where is the line drawn for accommodation?
Will the Super Bowl be held at 9 p.m. EST, which leaves a kick-off slated for 2 a.m. London time? Or are we Americans expected to reschedule our Super Bowl Sunday to begin watching the biggest game of the year at 4 p.m. EST, just so crooked- teethed, queen loving “bruvs” can have a kick-off at 9 p.m. London time? It better be the former and not the latter. It is our national game to enjoy. Why should we watch at awkward hours to accommodate other nations?
Four games were played in London last season, all of which had lower ratings than games from previous years. According to sportsmediawatch.com, the worst ratings drop was a game held in London. The least watched NFL game last season was a week 8 Washington-Cincinnati match-up that saw a 62 percent fall in ratings. If the ratings for the Super Bowl were to potentially be lackluster, would the draw for commercials lessen?
Don’t mess with my Super Bowl Commercials! Some viewers are in it simply for the ads. For me personally it goes: commercials; gambling squares; snacks and drinks; the possibility of a Brady comeback; and finally, calling off from work the next day. The Brady era is coming to an end, and I don’t want to be left with only chip dip and a sick day to look forward to when thinking of the Super Bowl.
I sense there would be major backlash from ‘Mericans – those Budweiser drinking, Bible Belt types. The ones who might not be able to point out London on a map, let alone conjure up a concern for why their traditions need to be messed with just to appease a tyrannical royal family we liberated ourselves from some 250 years ago.
Sports talk radio hosts for Detroit’s 97.1 FM have already been more than vocal about their distaste for the idea of a London Super Bowl. One can only imagine the type of uninhibited tweets and Facebook posts that will come from the average American football fan. Things like, “It’s called football, not soccer, bring it back to ‘Merica where it belongs! #MakeAmericaFootballAgain” could clog our newsfeeds if the push for London becomes strong enough.
New England Patriot fans will dump tea back into Boston Harbor in protest. Pittsburgh Steelers fans will boycott the use of Ben Roethlisberger’s nickname for its nod to the “Big Ben” clock in England. Stadiums throughout America will serve fish and Freedom chips in defiance of those red coats taking what is rightfully ours.
As much as those things seem a stretch, isn’t the real stretch disrupting a billion dollar event while expecting Americans to revisit how they enjoy what has become an almost ritualistic holiday? When you boil it down, the possibility of a London Super Bowl is simply a sports industry looking to gain stronger international pull when it is already more than thriving here among the continental 48 states. If the NFL is not careful, they could start to push the wrong buttons with an already irritated fan base.