Transatlantic Pigskin: NFL, London and Considering my Knee

The closest I get to a UK national sporting anthem is Oasis ‘Don’t Look Back in Anger,’ consequently, from a personal perspective I am not too sure what to make of the current NFL fall out over kneeling, unity, Trump and the 32 NFL franchises (this link is a great take on the situation though). Beyond the national anthem debacle, however, the fall out has made the idea of a NFL franchise based in London much more significant – especially – as Spurs continue to accommodate an NFL pitch into their new ground.


I am going to one of the International Series this weekend at Wembley between the Saints and Dolphins. Firstly, should I take a knee; and secondly and less personally, can and should the UK embrace an American sporting institution here in Britain?

Spurs New Pitch

Briefly, here are a couple of perspectives I have considered:

Economic – depends on who you ask, the government (in 2014) thinks so, Daniel Levy at Spurs thinks so. In the current climate of Brexit, it would also appear to make a lot of sense. Yes, to the franchise.

Tourism – does London need to be more global? Arguably a new franchise would add another global sports team and brand, but with multiple teams already vying in that market the NFL may further muddy the waters. Also, from a domestic perspective and as a Rugby League fan would a new sport using an oval ball further impede on an already saturated oval ball market? No, to the franchise.

Environmental – that is a lot of fuel. I am not too clued up on my environmental knowledge, but for me this must be a factor and ethically make sense. So, if the franchise could be carbon neutral and not a pure environmentally disregarding endeavour then yes. But until I know more, not sure, to the franchise.

Socio-cultural – the #TakeAKnee showcases for me how the UK and America share a number of socio-cultural commonalities, such as, the English language; but there are huge gulfs in our social and cultural practices, such as, differences over when the national anthem is played or flag is honoured (or putting ‘u’ in words). Would an international sports franchise balance these? Not sure, to the franchise (plus, a research project in there somewhere as well).

Political – do I need to say anything else, other than, 140 characters here? As in the current war of words over Twitter, between the NFL and President Trump, shows it is a tricky time for American Football right now. Moreover, the special relationship is on new ground with the current international strategies of both the UK and America. It is politically both an opportunity and threat for me, therefore, not sure, to the franchise.

Sporting – a large scale franchise that could balance the soccer heavy London market and carve up new opportunities, which could be beneficial. But, as I stated in the tourism point this could, also, hoover up prospective supporters, volunteers and sponsorship etc. for UK based sports. Finally, would we start teaching American Football in schools? Potentially through my Rugby League bias, I would say no, to the franchise.

As ever, and as ever historically, sport is playing a role in both an active and passive way during this unprecedented situation – unprecedented in the potential permanent international franchise, but also unprecedented within the current UK and American economic, social and political climates. Considering, briefly, multiple perspectives I am a mixture of no, yes and not sure, so rather uselessly no closer to a definitive view!

Alas, my more immediate concern is for Sunday, do I take a knee? Based on my views and perspectives I may abstain and hum an Oasis song instead…


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