Wednesday morning National Football League Commissioner Roger Goodell addressed the media in Boca Raton, FL at the NFL’s Owners Meetings.
Among other things, expansion of the shield was a topic that was talked about and will continue to be a big topic of discussion in media outlets.
The NFL has been playing games at Wembley Stadium in London since 2007, and since the start of the 2013 season the amount of games across the pond has increased.
In 2013 a total of four teams played two games in London. The following year those numbers were increased to six teams playing three games.
This coming season, four games between eight teams will be played outside of the US, the first three in London and the last game in Mexico City between the Houston Texans and Oakland Raiders.
Prior to Goodell taking the podium in Florida, it was reported that the NFL’s newest region of expansion is China. According to Sam Farmer of the Los Angeles Times reported that “there will be a 2018 game in China with the Los Angeles Rams as the home team.”
Expansion of the three major sports leagues, the MLB, NBA, and NFL, is nothing new, in fact the amount of expansion that we have seen from the three leagues has grown over the past few years.
Major League Baseball, just yesterday, played a game in Havana, Cuba between the Tampa Bay Rays and the Cuban National Team. Prior to and during the game MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred talked about the leagues hopes to expand, potentially adding another team that won’t be located inside America’s borders.
The National Basketball Association has played six games between London and Mexico City over the past four seasons.
Expansion in those sports has come with little pushback, and has been well received. That’s not the case for the NFL.
Players, as well as the media have displayed a growing negativity publicly towards football games being played overseas. Players especially don’t appreciate the extra travel that comes during the middle of the season that disrupts their team’s rhythm and schedule.
Even though the players may not like it, Goodell said that teams are all for it.
“We actually have multiple teams that are interested playing (in China).”
Before that he stated, “The size and the influence of China in the international market place is something you can’t ignore.”
Goodell is right in that China is obviously one of the biggest players in the international market, there’s no denying that. But are they a true player in the football market?
It’s no secret that China is big into baseball and has been for a long time, and the country’s desire for basketball has grown over the last decade or so.
Football, on the other hand, isn’t nearly as popular.
Sure the league could be going to China on an experimental basis as a way to feel out whether or not an NFL team would work there, but doesn’t it make more sense to play games where you know the sport will be well received and fans are already knowledgeable?
Maybe it’s just another example that Goodell is willing to play games just about anywhere no matter what the players say.
Whatever the plan is, I’m sure in 2018 when the game is played at a weird time here in the USA we’ll complain about this some more.