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Fan Centered Football

Oct 5, 2007
If the pass was thrown for 98 yards and received in the end zone but no one saw it, would it be a touchdown? If you had a stadium with highly trained players, referees, equipment and played all 4 quarters, but no one was in the stands, would it be a real game? Although fans are not required by any sort of rule it is an unwritten understanding that the game, its players and its paradigm exist for one and only one person: the fan. Understanding football as a fan based sport, the National Football League has done a series of innovative decision-making to help attract more fans and sustain the game.

Rule changes

In 1974 when Monday night football became all the rage, one thing was certain - more fans than ever were watching football. After the initial craze started by Monday night games began to show lackluster ratings, the head office began to ask what was wrong. The games seemed slow to fans and sometimes unintelligible. Too many games were built on defense, running games and complicated plays on the field that netted a steady flow of small yardage, but no big plays. In order to combat the slow-moving side of football, The NFL rushing ushered in innovative rule changes which favored passing, limited timeouts and time between plays and sped up the game. This use of structure to influence speed kept fans watching TV and filling the seats.

Exhibition games

The NFL is one of the few sports franchises that has no Canadian or international teams. The reason for that is the Canadian Football League is already a productive entity of its own and requires no American counterpart in their country. However, the NFL is also one of the first franchises branching out into the global economy by playing exhibition games and other cities in the world. From 1986 foreword, exhibition games called the "American Bowls" have been played in London, Berlin, Tokyo and Barcelona. These games help gain an international reputation for football, while satellite television can broadcast American games all over the world. This endears football to an entirely new population of people.

International seasonal games

While the exhibition games have wrought the ability to enjoy American football around the world, one of the points people complain about is the games aren't very hard fought. Professional football players are rarely willing to go the extra mile or put a lot of effort into an exhibition game. Who wants to lose a lucrative career simply because you pull a hamstring of pop your knee out of place for a game that doesn't even count for the regular-season? In order to show football as it really is meant to be played, the NFL has sanctioned the first game for regular season play to occur internationally at London's Wembley Stadium in 2007. The game has already sold out, and appears to be a bright prospect for future regular-season NFL games abroad.

The National Football League should be commended for its innovative ideas that help make the fan and their expectations the center of the game.
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