Why do many Europeans make fun of American football when so few actually understand the game?

Mudassir Ali
Mar 11, 2020 03:46 PM 0 Answers
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Mudassir Ali
- Mar 11, 2020 03:46 PM

You’ve answered your own question… Because they don’t understand it.

Substitute the word “European” for “American”, and substitute “American Football” for “Cricket” in your question and you will end up with exactly the same answer. It looks dull and seems to go on forever, the rules seem indecipherable and for large chunks of the game, absolutely nothing seems to happen. Americans never “got” Cricket, so there’s no affiliation to it nor any particular interest in learning it. The fact that Billions worldwide enjoy it is just seen as an odd quirk; it’s just a stupid game that foreigners play that most Americans have absolutely no interest in knowing more about.

It’s basically the same in reverse; in fact, if it wasn’t for the prevalence of American TV & Movies, I doubt anyone would have more than a passing awareness of it outside the US. After all, does anyone outside of Canada know ANYTHING about Canadian Football?

Having watched American Football live, I have a certain amount of appreciation for it. It’s like a turn-based strategy game, with an interesting ebb-and-flow and moments of impressive athleticism. But even I am not going to pretend I could watch a full game (breaks and all) without my mind wandering and the boredom setting in. Even Americans must appreciate that there’s a LOT of standing around doing nothing.

I’d actually urge Americans who are keen on broadening their horizons to check out a game of Rugby League (which is a different sport to Rugby Union). Rugby League has the same concept of ‘downs’ as American Football and the overall aim is roughly same (get the ball in your opponents goal area within six tackles or you have to concede possession). The only fundamental difference is that you can’t pass forward. Where it comes into it’s own versus American Football is the the sheer, breathless, relentless speed of the game. When you’re tackled in Rugby League, the game instantly continues into the next play. There’s no chance to take a breather after you’ve received an energy-sapping tackle; you’ve got to immediately jump to your feet and carry on. As such, professional Rugby League players are some of the fittest all-round athletes in all sport. It’s the sort of sport that, had the Football code-split gone differently at the end of the 19th century, I really think Americans would have embraced. It’s brutal athleticism with high-scoring games.

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