The truth shall set you free

International Football versus American Football

Truth confessions: I’ve been a Green Bay Packer fan for about 40 years. When you grow up in Wisconsin with parents who love “The Green and Gold,” had season tickets for many years, and were part of the Ice Bowl at Lambeau in ‘67, it’s hard not to bleed green and gold. Regardless of where I go and what I do, I’ll always have a special place in my heart for the Packers!

Even though I love the team from Northern Wisconsin and enjoy the National Football League (NFL) on TV, I think I’ve found a new love. Please don’t tell my large extended family some of whom own Packers’ stock and wear green and gold pajamas with the big “G” scattered front and back. Seriously, I’ve been watching Barclays Premier League on Fox Sports for the last 9 months and I have to say I’m hooked. I thoroughly enjoy great International Football (what Americans would call soccer) much to the chagrin of my wife, who doesn’t have much interest and has learned to be passionate when viewing the “Pack Attack.”

How can I help other Americans in love with the NFL, become interested in this beautiful International game? Especially the crème de la crème of International Football played in countries such as England, Spain, Germany and Italy.

English Premier League Football
Image from

The way each international team orchestrates their offense is a beauty to observe – playing “keep away” from their opponents as various strikers and forwards move about, trying to gain a competitive advantage near the goal. The passing is great too – not preferring long or short passes, it’s fascinating how each footballer attempts to control the ball until they’re ready to move forward, passing laterally or temporarily retreating to see how the defense responds. Even if moving the ball around is not exact, these footballers use all parts of their body, besides their hands and arms, to regain control as they move on with the play.

Many years ago, while engaged in higher learning, my roommate told me college football was more entertaining than the NFL – I knew he was right but for whatever reason, didn’t want to admit it. How could young collegiate players produce a more interesting and compelling product than the pros? I thought that was counter intuitive! Being older and hopefully wiser, as a spectator, I’m more honest and objective about what I see and experience in sports. Regardless of the sport, match or league, if it’s interesting, compelling and the outcome is uncertain, should I not give it a go?

As time goes on, I’m becoming more inclined to say elite International Football is certainly more entertaining as a spectator than the National Football League. Among sports’ viewers, this might be considered blasphemous, especially living in the Midwest, which many consider, “Football Country.” Regardless, is it not all about the total viewing experience?

Mind you, the NFL is more popular than ever. That doesn’t mean they are as entertaining as ever, it just mean they recently set new attendance and viewing records. Be careful how you construe popularity. Major League Baseball recently set attendance records although you wouldn’t find many informed fans say the viewing experience is better than ever.

Over the last decade (or even longer) and especially the last several years, has not the NFL gradually destroyed their game with too many commercial interruptions? As a viewer, it’s just not as compelling and it appears you’re seeing more commercials after each passing year. Commercials after coach’s challenges, injuries, kick-offs, and miscellaneous stoppage of play. It’s like being shown a 90-minute movie that somehow takes 3 hours before you know how it ends or who wins? At what point will the masses “push back” and say the product is too diluted to hold their interest?

Back to International Football, I’ve heard many Americans complain about the lack of scoring. Indeed, I don’t like a game 1-0 but let me provide perspective. First, not every game experiences 1 goal. For many games, there may be 2, 3, or 4 goals. Regardless of Americans obsession with scoring, is it a fair comparison? Are these games quite different from one another so points in one game (NFL football) might mean much more than International Football? As I’ve said earlier, there are so many subtle things about the game where you primarily use your foot – where, if you seek, you’ll see many attractive selling points.

If you love the NFL but are unfamiliar with that popular game across the pond, are you willing to give it a shot? It appears that some Europeans are giving the NFL a chance….See if you can appreciate the passing on the pitch (field) – both long and short. See if you can appreciate how each offense spreads their attackers in the hopes of finding a weakness in the defense. Look for the beauty in dribbling, and the speed at which some players dribble to elude defenders. See how the game is refereed and determine which fouls warrant a yellow or even a red card. Contrary to the thought of many Americans, it is a very physical game.  What about finding beauty in a corner kick? Who knows, you might learn some nuances about the game and begin to appreciate International Football. If you’re open to something new, see if there’s anything about this game or the coverage of this game that the NFL could incorporate?

La bellezza del calcio internazionale