Scrolling Headlines:

UMass women’s basketball suffers disappointing loss to St. Bonaventure at Mullins Center Thursday -

January 19, 2017

REPORT: Tom Masella out as defensive coordinator for UMass football -

January 19, 2017

Zach Lewis, bench carry UMass men’s basketball in win over St. Joe’s -

January 19, 2017

UMass women’s basketball handles Duquesne at home -

January 16, 2017

UMass men’s basketball’s late comeback falls short after blowing 15-point first-half lead -

January 15, 2017

UMass hockey outlasted at home against No. 6 UMass Lowell -

January 14, 2017

Hailey Leidel hits second buzzer beater of the season to give UMass women’s basketball win over Davidson -

January 13, 2017

UMass football hosts Maine at Fenway Park in 2017 -

January 12, 2017

UMass men’s basketball snaps losing streak and upsets Dayton Wednesday night at Mullins Center -

January 11, 2017

UMass women’s track and field takes second at Dartmouth Relays -

January 10, 2017

UMass hockey falls to No. 5 Boston University at Frozen Fenway -

January 8, 2017

UMass professor to make third appearance on ‘Jeopardy!’ -

January 8, 2017

UMass women’s basketball suffers brutal loss on road against Saint Joseph’s -

January 7, 2017

UMass men’s basketball drops thirds straight, falls to VCU 81-64 -

January 7, 2017

UMass men’s basketball drops tightly-contested conference matchup against George Mason Wednesday night -

January 4, 2017

Late-game defense preserves UMass women’s basketball’s win against rival Rhode Island -

January 4, 2017

AIC shuts out UMass hockey 3-0 at Mullins Center -

January 4, 2017

UMass professor to appear as contestant on ‘Jeopardy!’ Thursday night -

January 4, 2017

Penalties plague UMass hockey in Mariucci Classic championship game -

January 2, 2017

UMass men’s basketball falls in A-10 opener to St. Bonaventure and its veteran backcourt -

December 30, 2016

Football for all

This past summer, I spent about two months in London. During my time there, I had an internship at Alliance magazine – the leading publication on the latest in philanthropy and social investment news – where I discussed, among other things, American football.

It is from my experience in London that I began to see that American football might have a place in Europe. At Alliance magazine, I usually worked and talked with two people from the office – David and Kai.

Their opinions on football were polar opposites. Kai took the perspective that I had assumed most of England held – a profanity laced admonishment describing a sport so many Americans love. To quote him, football is, “F***ing stupid.”

David’s perspective, however, was a nice surprise. Not only did he like football but he knew a lot about the sport. I was able to debate with him about the readiness of Tom Brady after his injuries or the change in coaching style of Bill Belichick. We both concluded that he has a far better strategy now than he did with the Cleveland Browns, where he was a controlling micromanager.

It was talking with David about football that let me feel a little closer to home. It was nice to talk about an element of America that was appreciated by someone who was foreign to the country.

Yesterday, more than 80,000 fans packed Wembley stadium in London for an NFL game, the New England Patriots against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. According to the announcers, tickets sold out in less than 10 minutes. NFL commissioner Roger Goodell talked with the CBS announcers during the game about the possibility of expanding the league’s presence in London with the potential of even putting a team there..

I was especially happy to hear about the NFL’s initiative. I think that American football could do very well overseas in places like England. The sport could be popular. All you have to do is look at their current fanatical love for soccer to see why.

European soccer games can be near riotous on ordinary days. Before a big game in London, I saw a huge crowd assembled outside one of the town’s numerous pubs, collectively throwing food at cars and people passing by. Certain bars are hangout spots for one team or another, and if a fan of the opposing side wants a drink, he or she won’t be allowed.

Football fans, like many fans of American sports, are utterly polarized and hang on to their team’s colors and accomplishments to the bitter, sometimes miserable, end. The brutality in football coincides nicely with the angry fans and mob mentality that surrounds soccer. The sports may be different, but the feel of football would be just right for such raucous London crowds.

The biggest gains, however, that the NFL and the United States could have from expanding professional football to other countries, are the diplomatic opportunities that would result from worldwide acceptance.

Right now, football is undisputedly an American tradition. It could not do any harm to have other countries think that one of our traditions was worth replicating. Internationally, America’s image is not particularly shiny. Two wars and a former president that many foreigners simply hated have soured America’s name abroad.

Believe it or not, football could be a bridge to better understanding. The expansion of football could act as a sort of secondary Peace Corps. On their website, their mission is outlined, “The Peace Corps has shared with the world America’s most precious resource – its people.” The expansion of football would share one of this country’s most popular sporting events to the world, creating positive dialogue between countries.

Most importantly, it would provide a reason for other countries to have an interest in a portion of American culture.

Right now, many Europeans I talk to don’t have the first clue about American football. This can and should change.

Goodell is taking a positive step not only for the financial security of the league, but also for the interests of the country.

I think places like England could have a positive experience with football. I am less sure about other European countries, although the idea of a French football team gives me a wide smile.  In a world where France, a country known for cheese, romance and wine can turn into fans of American football, the future is bright.

Sports are a worldwide institution. Let’s support the effort to expand America’s image and transform sports like football from an American to an international phenomenon.

Michael Phillis is a Collegian columnist. He can be reached at mphillis@student.umass.edu.

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