The match, the equivalent of Arsenal playing Manchester United in a Premier League game in New York, is the latest attempt to convert a global audience to gridiron’s unique mix of razzmatazz and raw athleticism. With its shoulder pads and crash helmets, cheer leaders and three-hour matches studded with adbreaks and lavish halftime entertainment, gridiron is the ultimate American sport.
Gaudy, glamorous, occasionally thrilling, and until now utterly parochial, it encapsulates all that is good and bad about US sport. The game has tried and failed to take root in the UK before, but this time the National Football League is serious. This is no exhibition, no pre-season friendly, but a genuine slice of competitive American sport transposed to a corner of north-west London.
It is a bold move, a huge logistical effort, and a significant test of affection for a complex, alien game in a country with its own rich and far less parochial sporting culture. The motivation, as is so often in modern sport, is financial.
The NFL is an awesomely efficient money-making machine, with an estimated global supporter base of 400 million people. So effective has it been at filling stadiums, selling broadcast rights and marketing merchandise, however, that the league’s 32 franchise owners fear the domestic market may soon be saturated.
"The market is not saturated in the US yet, but it will be at some point in time," said Alistair Kirkwood, managing director of NFL UK, an offshoot of the league with a London office and 14 staff. The NFL commissioner, when he presented this to ownership last year, told them, "We are doing incredibly well by every consideration, but if in the next 20 years you want to grow the supporter base from 400 million to 4 billion, you’re going to have to sacrifice, take some short-term hits and gamble". "This is a major statement and a major commitment." The London game is the first of two overseas matches that will take place in each of the next five seasons, with Germany, Mexico, Canada and China potential future hosts.
Organisers are keen to return to the UK on a regular basis and have ambitions to establish the sport here.
"Our vision in this market is to be a top five sport," said Mr Kirkwood. "We want to be behind football, rugby, cricket and formula one and within five years become the number five sport, measured in terms of television audiences and revenue. This game is an accelerator to help us move very quickly."
The NFL’s optimism has been boosted by the initial public reaction to the game. Within 48 hours of being announced Wembley had received 500,000 ticket applications for 90,000 seats, while Sky will show the game live and the BBC a highlights show after Match of the Day 2 on Sunday evening.
The event has worked well for London too, with tourism officials delighted at media coverage of the city in the US, which has included a front-page report in the New York Times.
Local enthusiasm for the event is partly explained by a lingering affection for gridiron among those that remember its 1980s heyday, when Channel 4 provided regular coverage of the NFL on Sunday afternoons, at that time a barren slot in the sporting schedule.
Today the ubiquitous Premier League occupies Sunday afternoons, and the financial success of domestic football offers another reason why the game is coming to London.
Several Premiership football clubs are now wholly or part-owned by American sporting entrepreneurs. Randy Lerner owns Aston Villa and the Cleveland Browns; the Glazer family empire includes the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and Manchester United; Liverpool’s co-owners Tom Hicks and George Gillett Junior own baseball and ice hockey franchises, while Arsenal investor Stan Kroenke part-owns the NFL team, St Louis Rams.
Having invested in the English version of the game because of the riches on offer - the last Premier League TV deal reaped £1.3bn - they are keen to see if their own brand proves as lucrative.
"Sports is truly a branded consumer product of the utmost value," said Hicks. "It’s a unique media and in the US we have seen media revenues grow dramatically with the NFL. It’s a big business and people look at the TV ratings globally for soccer and see that the English Premier League is the best product."
Miami Dolphins owner Wayne Huizenga, who sacrificed the revenue from one of just eight home games in the NFL season to come to London, is confident the move will pay off.
"The fact that the stadium [Wembley] could have been sold out three times over proves that this is a great chance to increase our fan base throughout Europe," he said. "We have a great game and great support, but it needs to become a bigger global sport."
. This article was amended on Tuesday October 30 2007. In the above article we said that the NFL has a US supporter base of 400 million people. That is the global supporter base. This has been corrected.
Hello to all the filmmakers, directors, and producers of Tumblrland! The Chaffey Review (that’s us) is hosting the second annual Chaffey Review Film Festival February 8, 2014 at Chaffey College (that’s our college) and would like to hear from you! We are accepting film submissions in three categories: Feature Narrative, Feature Documentary, and Short Film. The festival is juried by a panel made of faculty and students of Chaffey College. There will be cash prizes offered to the Best in Feature Film, Short, and Audience’s Choice. The event screening is free! Mark your calendars and follow us on Facebook[x] for more information and updates.
You can also check out the trailer from our inaugural year[x].
Questions? Check out our FAQ[x]
Specific Questions? Send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org
Submissions? Here are our submission guidelines:
Narrative Feature Film
Any narrative work of fiction with a running time of 60 minutes or more, including films that are shot in a “mockumentary” style and animated films.
Documentary Feature Film
Any non-fiction film with a running time of 60 minutes or more, NOT including entirely scripted or improvised fictionalizations of actual events.
Any narrative or documentary film with a running time of less than 15 minutes, including music videos, webisodes, and animated shorts.
This year’s festival will accept submissions until October 25, 2013
The Chaffey Review Film Festival
Department of Language Arts
Attn: Michelle Dowd
5885 Haven Ave.
Rancho Cucamonga CA 91737
Michelle Dowd (Director), Mohammad Shahisaman (Director)
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Paint with shadows
and draw lines around the absences
to capture ghosts.
Lying beside the picture,
the painter can still see the subject,
disappearing but not quite gone.
So much from memory,
the world of the ghosts,
taunts with this fading.