Football on this side of the atlantic is soccer. Your (in my opinion better) form of Football is usually called American Football. Course I’m Irish, so over here Football could mean soccer or our own form of Gaelic Football. And just to confuse matters some really old Rugby Clubs still call themselves Football Clubs
God, that is stupidly confusing. Is american football really gaining popularity over on your side of the pond? I think that’s really cool. It’s a great game, but it seems that few outside of North American really know it at all. (Know of it maybe, but not actually know the game.) I blame all the name confusion myself.
I don’t think there’s much interest in it at all really. It isn’t shown on terrestial telly, the result of the Super Bowl is reported but only as a footnote. A once a year exhibition game attracts interest amongst a minority - it might get reported in a London paper and it isn’t hard to have a sell-out stadium when you only need to sell 80,000 tickets in a city of 10 million people (and c. 200,000 resident US citizens).
But aside from that, I’d say interest is minimal. And we call it ‘American football’. Football is a sport which primarily involves kicking a ball with your foot.
I don’t know about gaining. There was an attempt at a European league (NFL Europa) but the British teams didn’t last long (the London Monarchs gave up in 1998 and the Scottish Claymores in 2004). There are still various small-scale leagues and teams, but a quick initial search suggests that even the top teams don’t get crowds of more than 1,000 (and no TV coverage that I know of).
The NFL game here last year attracted some interest, but (American) football’s heyday was really the 1980s, when the new and innovative TV network Channel 4 started regular Sunday coverage. For a while it was quite a cult thing, and one or two of the players such as The Fridge were fairly well known here. The novelty seemed to wear off, interest declined a little, and Channel 4 dropped it.
It seems to have made a modest comeback in recent years, now that they show it regularly on Five. Although IIRC the NFL game was actually on the BBC, the first time they had ever covered American football.
As a Chicago Bears fan, I vividly recall the Bears-Cowboys exhibition in Wembley Stadium the year after they won Superbowl XX.
IIRC, it was a huge sellout, and a lot of folks at the time thought it was indicative of greater popularity for the sport in Europe. Alas, that never really quite came to pass.
I guess the rule stands: we only care about each others “football” when there are celebrities playing it. In 1986, the Chicago Bears were arguably the first “celebrity” team to appear in pro football, they were absolutely huge for that moment in history. For soccer, Americans only seem to care when it’s Pele or David Beckham playing it-- even today, it’s a game thought of as something kids play before they move on to other sports, or something popular with immigrants from soccer-friendly countries.
Personally, since I loathe the game of soccer, I’m fine with that :-).
Yeah it is confusing. Its basically a load of different codes competing for the “purest” form of Football. In Ireland at least American Football doesn’t have a huge following. For anyone with satellite/cable you can get most matches although it requires staying up pretty late. We also get NFL Network programming, so if you’re into it then its pretty easy to follow. Personally as a rugby fan I think its a great game, so feel the urge to punch those people who go on about the players wearing too much padding.
Considering we’re a country of 4 million with four major sports already, I don’t think my drunken attempts at teaching people play action passes with an empty beer can will have any effect.
For what it’s worth, I played American Football at University in the UK. We played in the British Universities American Football League. In our division, at the time, were Oxford University, Bath, UEA and Hertfordshire. This was in the mid '90s. There was also a quite active amateur league (think Sunday league) in the UK at the time too, we used to co-train with a local team.