Super Bowl needs to stay right where it is
We're the season-ticket holders. The league's backbone. The ones who adore their team so much that some of us pay $1,000-plus annually on just one seat and parking, not including the hundreds more in beer drank to make two preseason contests palatable.
We buy your merchandise. We scour the Internet, read newspapers and listen to sports radio for information. Our demeanor the day after games is determined by whether we win or lose.
But clearly, this isn't good enough.
Out-of-market preseason matchups and the ill-fated NFL Europa were one thing. But now you've taken Sunday's Dolphins-Giants game to London. This upset both Miami faithful and transplanted New Yorkers, as the Giants haven't played in South Florida since 1996.The intrusion into the regular season doesn't end there. Buffalo enjoys one of the NFL's best home-field advantages, yet the Bills will branch into Toronto beginning next season. Two other regular-season games will be held internationally in 2008, with Germany and Mexico making pitches to host. The Miami Herald reported that a proposal to expand the NFL's schedule by one game â€” while also adding an international contest for each team annually â€” is on the league radar.
Plus, you are actually considering the ultimate insult â€” staging a future Super Bowl in London.
"If you're really talking about going global and introducing the game to more people, that might be one way to do it," Dolphins owner H. Wayne Huizenga said. "I'm not saying it's going to happen. Certainly, there are negatives. But there could be more positives."
Positives being money, which is what drew NFL bigwigs and owners to London for a Thursday seminar on the global sports economy.
Mark Waller, who heads the NFL's international development, says only three percent of the league's annual revenue comes from non-U.S. streams. But he says there is a "massive economic opportunity" by placing more focus abroad in a $90 billion world sports market.
"That's the way the world is going," Waller says. "Our job is to make sure as fans around the world become more global and we're part of that framework. ... It's a fan opportunity."
Unless you're a middle-class U.S. fan like so many of us.
Giants co-owner Steve Tisch described Sunday's game as a "mini-international Super Bowl." While the Dolphins (0-7) aren't championship material, Tisch is right in at least one respect â€” cost. Judging by how much it costs for fans to come from South Florida and New York, Sunday's game might as well be the Super Bowl.
In fact, as it stands now, Super Bowl seats remain a relatively attainable goal for us diehards even if forced to use ticket brokers. Putting the game in London â€” where the pound is valued at more than double the U.S. dollar â€” dashes that possibility unless most of us want to start a second mortgage.
Still, you already don't mind ruining one of the eight regular-season Sundays we cherish each year to watch our hometown club in person. We felt like rubes Thursday when New England Patriots owner Bob Kraft said such shifts give "fans a chance to watch a home game on TV in a way they don't (normally) get."
Bob, we already get that. It's called an away game.
Funny, but Kraft isn't keen on having the Patriots lose a home game. Neither is Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones. He compared moving key NFL matchups overseas to top Premier League soccer matches being shifted to the U.S.
"Do you want Liverpool and Manchester playing in New York? How many times? Once every other year?" he said. "I don't think it would go. It won't happen.
"When we play key games â€” the Redskins or Philadelphia â€” there is an aura in the stadium. It's my city against your city. You feel that in the crowd. When you play (outside the U.S.), it's a legitimate game but you don't have that aspect. It's more of an exhibition in that sense. It's good for some teams but not good for others."
It's not good for us. The fans. Â