|Brits need to get educated in order to follow NFL, fan says|
|Written by Admin|
|Friday, 26 October 2007 11:40|
LONDON (AP) -The NFL is about to give the British public its first lesson in top-level American football, and some local fans believe the sport can succeed overseas with the right strategy.|
``Once you get educated in this country, you'll be a fan,'' said Patrick Dicks, a 40-year-old Disney employee who grew up in Bristol but now lives in Orlando, Florida. ``It's all education.''
Dicks and four friends flew to London this week to see the Miami Dolphins play the New York Giants in the NFL's first regular-season game outside North America. Although Dicks, who has lived in the United States for 23 years, is a convert to the sport, it might be tough for others in Britain to get on board.
``It just doesn't appeal to me,'' said Simon Aaronson, a 26-year-old physics teacher. ``It seems like a bunch of men in crash helmets running into each other.''
The NFL has tried to break into the European market before, first with the American Bowl exhibition games and later with the minor-league NFL Europe, later renamed NFL Europa. Both had a small amount of success but were eventually dropped as interest decreased.
Sunday's game is different. It means something.
``This game will help the brand more that NFL Europe,'' said Dicks, who is confident the Dolphins, despite the worst record in the league, can prevail at the rebuilt Wembley Stadium.
``Even though we're 0-7, I love them still,'' Dicks said while standing next to two friends wearing Giants hats.
Sara Jones, a 21-year-old graduate student, said she would like to tune in Sunday to watch the sold-out game.
``I want to see what the fuss is about,'' said Jones, adding she believed there was room for American football in the British sports landscape. ``If we just welcome them into the fold, I don't see why it shouldn't succeed.''
Aaronson agreed, sort of.
``Everything in America eventually catches on in England,'' Aaronson said. ``American culture infiltrates British society.''
Sam Lumanji, a 24-year-old student originally from Congo, was working as a steward Friday at Trafalgar Square, where a 26-foot animatronic version of Dolphins defensive end Jason Taylor was displayed Monday.
He wasn't aware that the NFL was playing in London, but he definitely knows about the sport.
``It's spectacular to see,'' Lumanji said.
The older generation is likely to be a tougher sell, however.
``I watch it now and again, but it doesn't appeal to me,'' said Ronald Brown, an 83-year-old retiree from the printing business. ``Some of the tackling they do is so bloody cruel.''
Business analyst Chris Burdon became a bit of an NFL fan when he lived in New York for a year, and he said he would watch Sunday's game if it was being shown at a pub. But he's not sure it's something that will be on TV at his local hangout every week.
``The thing about the NFL is that it's so specific to the States,'' the 26-year-old Londoner said. ``You guys need your own sports over there. Football and baseball - it's part of your identity.
``I don't think it needs to be big over here.''
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