Ok, ok. Where do I start on this? I feel as one of the board's pre-eminent Limey-knowledgeables, I should impart any feedback, further information that I can...
First of all, a bit of background.
"College Football" has only really existed here for a very short time and was only put on the map of official UK university sports
very recently. It has official been around for 30 years since the 80s when the British were just starting to deepen their niche-love affair with American Football. A handful... and I *mean* a handful of universities offered it as 'another past time', no more. And played at a very low level indeed, make no bones. And while the game grew in popularity over here as a result, watching it was a whole bunch different from playing it! I don't need to explain to you about the differences!
When I went to Uni (Lancaster) in 1997 with the woo of UF in my middle year, I will confess I knew little about American football and was shocked to see that Lancaster had its own team, the Bombers
. One Sunday I walked down to see a game they were playing against a fellow university team. This was on a rugby pitch (hence at least they had rugby posts) but I swear if there were 10 spectators, I wouldn't bet on it. Most were walking their dogs and stopping out of curiosity on an open playing field.
I was interested in joining but to be honest, it looked a bit 'cliquey' so I didn't pursue it. [Fast forward 12 months and I found out what American Football was really all about at UF! Glad of it too!...]
Bring it forward and the game is starting to pick up some real serious love. I'm sure you've seen a full Wembley (90,000) for the NFL games. Tickets for those sell out rapidly - the fan base is growing all the time. The love of the game in terms of watching though is starting to trickle effectively into playing but recognise it's at a very, very immature stage still. But a lot of these kids are young and interested. Every nation has it's athletes. Due respect but not enough of ours are yet drawn into American football but it will continue to grow.
Why? Sky Sports!
Our major sports network carries NFL Sundays like yours and we also have access to the college football (via ESPN America) so for the partisan fans, it's available and still growing.
Some specific stuff:
The clips Hungary Gator showed aren't from this year I don't believe. I think they were dated from last year. I understand the finals are due to be played this Saturday 23rd (used to be played in a 'soccer stadium') with proper posts but as you said they are often rugby pitches which have been adapted. Playing space is valuable in this small nation of ours - having dedicated pitches is not yet in our young blueprint yet but hopefully one day? Most unis will not even be as equipped as the one you saw...
University leagues are the key - clubs are springing up all over the nation, often founded by passionate kids coming out of uni who have played.
The Hertfordshire Hurricanes
team is in the final again this year I believe - playing their arch rival Birmingham. - both have lots of success (I believe the Hurricanes are the defending "SEC Champions" and National Champions How do you like THEM apples, huh?!!! the 'Canes!!! Euuugh).
Put simply the standard is not high and keep in mind, that team BATTERED most of its opponents this year. It went 8-0 in regular season, was seeded #1 and had a points differential of +407 in its 8 league games. Yep. Let's just say the standard varies from university to university...
We do have cheerleaders, Hungary but you can make your own determination on them. I doubt they will be what you are expecting. (Be kind... I have linked the website of the Birmingham Pussycats
official Cheerleading team - they support their team, the Lions, but much like American Football has yet to grow, cheerleading has done so even slower)
Other remarks from the thread:
* Your Hertfordshire comment was brilliant, MadduxFan. It's one of the posher areas in Britain so you ironically gave me a satirical giggle.
* The Punting Game sure as heck needs some work. As does most of it
* The game is growing but competing with 'soccer' makes it hard. Kids kick a ball from walking over here. American football won't reach most of these kids for 15-20 years after that. That IS changing though - many young kids are now getting a chance to play flag football in small local clubs. It is growing but it takes time!
* We have a guy called Vernon Kay who is a pretty famous British TV presenter and Radio 1 DJ - he plays American Football in the National League (he's a good safety I believe for the London Warriors) and he promotes the game excellently. He's a big Baltimore fan so he's happy right now. He and the rest of the team also met Ray Lewis last year who dropped in and did some clinics with him. If you assume all British football fans aren't knowledgeable about him/it, take a look at this reaction when he dropped in. This video gives me chills!
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* I did laugh on my old Universities' website where it claims:
LEAVE NO DOUBT!!
This is serious competitive football equivalent to High School football in the states We compete within the Northern Conference in the BUAFL league
...personally, I'd like to see them play a Florida HS team. Ha! Somehow saying it's equivalent is... well, a bit of a reach !
* To be clear. When you say "it's like how we must look to Europeans playing soccer", actually no it's not. The US is MUCH better at soccer than we are at American football and it's not even close. The game is still in its infancy but it will grow and I'm excited to see that.
* Keep an eye on the draft this year. A certain Menelik Watson (OL - FSU *boo, hiss*!) is a possible first rounder is from Manchester, England! His story is incredible -only a very late convert to the game after starting out as a basketballer but it's hard for me not to pull for the guy, Nole or not, with his broad Mancunian Accent set for the big show. Talented kid too it seems and he's only going to grow/develop, I reckon!
* Finally, make no bones that my 1 year old boy has 2 soft balls to play with: one is a football but the other is an American Football which he loves. I will keep that in front of him and if he shows the same interest going forward, he will undoubtedly be skilled at it relative to most of his British peers as he gets older. He has orange hair and blue eyes too so he's got Gator written all over him
I'm going to keep encouraging him to play. He has a bit of timber around the waistline already and is as strong as an ox too so I figure he's got line of scrimmage in his future. That'll do, though. Hopefully DeBigLeezard can give him some tips!
Sorry for the looooong post. Insight over!