The NFL is a huge success, a money making sporting spectacle. It’s a huge part of the culture of the US, and has a fan base in many countries. It doesn’t have the global reach of soccer though, and in this article I want to examine something which makes the NFL jealous of soccer…

For a start, one thing that the NFL has to be jealous about, is the fact that almost everywhere else in the world, soccer is called ‘football’. In the US, ‘football’ refers to the NFL game. That’s not the point of this article, it’s a point for another day, but since I’m British, in this article ‘football’ = ‘soccer’ and ‘NFL’ = American Football!

I love both games. I’ve been watching football since the early 1970s, and the NFL since the early 1980s when it first came to UK TV.

They are very different games, with very different structures, and it’s this that leads to my point – so what is it that might make the NFL jealous…?

Well, it was called ‘Survival Sunday’. May 22nd 2011, the last day of the football season for the English Premier league, and 5 teams were in danger of filling the 2 remaining spots to be relegated.

Relegation means to drop out of the Premier League into the league below. Getting back in would depend on getting promoted back up the next year, so it’s not guaranteed, and it’s possible that a team may *never* get back in.

As the final day’s games played out, plenty of goals were scored, and each goal changed the potential final league table. The fate of those 5 teams changed back and forth. So did the emotions for the fans, either in the ground or watching on TV.

Three of those teams survived, but two did not, and their fans face a desolate summer, waiting for that season long slog to try and get back in.

The NFL just doesn’t offer this kind of emotion. Yes, it has the playoffs in the run to the Super bowl, but because it doesn’t have a league that teams can be relegated from, the emotion is different.

The stark reality of losing your place in the league is not something the teams or their fans have to face. Think of your favourite NFL team, or the biggest you can think of – then imagine that team *out* of the NFL!

Can you see how it would impact the game?

As I said before, I love the NFL, and I happen to think the way the league is set up works just fine, with each team being a franchise. It just means there will never be end-of-season days quite like those in the football Premier League

It won’t stop me enjoying either sport, but I imagine the NFL commission *must* have just the occasional pang of jealousy about not having ‘Survival Sunday!’

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