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Foreign NFL, NBA idea needs explaining

The Vikings beat the Steelers at Wembley Stadium in London. (AP Photo.)

I’ve noticed recently that professional sports teams have been playing a lot of games overseas. This has actually been happening for a while, but it’s been big news lately. There have even been talks about having pro teams in our leagues stationed in other countries, and I don’t really understand why this is happening.

See, there’s this little word in the title of the two biggest leagues sending games, and potentially teams, overseas: the NBA and the NFL. That word is “national.”

Forgive me if I’m wrong, but doesn’t “national” mean “Of one nation”? And isn’t that nation the United States?

So how exactly would having, for example, an NBA team in China work with the whole “National Basketball Association” title?

OK, so I know that we have teams in some of these leagues — the NHL in particular — that play in Canada. But since those teams are mostly there for our own enjoyment  — they tend to be terrible — and Canada is on the same continent as we are, with a massive amount of sports fans and very few pro leagues of their own, I tend not to worry about that much.

Having an NFL team in London, though? Do you really want NFL plays called in a strange accent with players constantly being referred to as “chaps”?

Actually, that might be entertaining. I can definitely picture Clay Matthews or J.J. Watt trying to tackle an entire broadcaster’s booth because they overheard someone calling them a word that means something very different across the pond than it does here. (For example, a term for cats means two radically different things in the U.S. and Britain.)

Entertaining commentary and angry football players aside, do we really want to put an NFL team on a continent that still believes soccer — a game played using primarily the players’ feet — should be called football rather than the game we call football, which is played with a ball mostly is in players’ hands?

Seriously, I think that would be ridiculous.

I have somewhat different problems with playing individual games overseas, though.

I get that leagues can make a lot of money by expanding to a global market. What confuses me is how they weigh the liability of sending entire franchises across oceans (not the safest or easiest of travels), along with the whole “if a player was injured in an overseas game, how much would he sue us for?” part of the equation, and still manage to come up with a “send them everywhere” strategy.

Especially since teams, and sometimes leagues, complain so much about players competing overseas for things like the Olympics — which are meant to show the world what our teams can do — expand the market globally and the oft-forgotten representation of our country in front of the entire world. Seriously, where is Mark Cuban on this issue? We need his Maverick-ness to play a part here!

I guess my question is this: Why are we sending teams in our leagues to play for fans in other countries? I mean, it’s not like we send our soldiers to fight in … Wait, that’s right, we do that a lot.

Maybe we should just change all our league names to “global.”



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