As the popularity of the NFL grows in the UK and of course the aftermath of the 2012 Olympics, the question of how major US sports lie within UK culture is brought to a head.
The 2012 – 13 NFL export drive is continuing to grow in strength in the UK this year, with the BBC predicting that it will continue to expand in revenue up to 2016. Since 2007, the NFL have held their contests in the UK as part of their regular season games and has thus embedded itself into UK sports culture. There are two reasons for this; traditional UK sports, such as football have a massive following with supporters who are incredibly loyal to their clubs, and the revenue that the NFL can bring to the UK economy can match that of some of our major sports.
In the US, last year, the NFL brought in over $9bn in revenue, with some of the highest paid sports stars in America and the world, they are a great sporting legacy to have on our side. So with this expansion onto UK shores, what does this mean for the popularity of other American sports played on British soil?
Basketball in the UK has been ever prevalent since the 1940′s, post war Britain saw many American GI’s who showed us how to play and taught us the rules for this fun, fast paced classic. Currently in the UK there are 3 leagues with the overriding governing body being the British Basketball League (BBL), followed by the English Basketball League (EBL) and the Scottish League (SBL)
There has been a decline in recent years in the amount of clubs that are signed up to the leagues but the hope is that with the sudden increase in sporting popularity, this downturn will change and European Basketball will be more secure. There are currently 12 clubs playing under the BBL including the Manchester Giants and the recently signed East London Royals. If you want to go and watch a game, then you will find a full list of venues on the BBL website, and the best bit is that you will get the full American experience including cheerleaders and fun mascots!
Unlike Basketball that has a clear, historical introduction to the UK; Ice hockey has been played in Britain since the 1800′s. The UK, like many other countries is a member of the IIHF (International Ice Hockey Federation) and has prevalent teams in the league. Unlike American leagues, UK Ice Hockey matches are barely covered in the media which is why the sport has not gained the notoriety it deserves. The lack of media coverage in the UK does mean that tickets to the games are fairly well priced, visit the IIHF website to see where the matches are being held and book your tickets!
Like the majority of American sports that are played in the UK, Baseball was introduced in the 1890′s by Francis Ley who had been too many games whilst visiting the USA. With such a history in the UK, you would believe that baseball would be heavily supported; unfortunately it is the opposite and until recently was not well known to be played in the UK at all. Thankfully the Olympics and the British Baseball teams impressive display during the 2012 season has started to change this!
The UK has numerous leagues that are governed by the British Baseball federation (BBF), for which teams pay a fee to be represented under this branding. Along with this, Scottish teams also have their own leagues that are preceded over by Baseball Scotland. The leagues and matches work in a very similar way to the American rules and regulations and after Team GB’s well played matches last season, we can be sure to see the sport grow in 2013-14.
Cass is a writer and journalist, with over 5 years experience within the industry. Along with sports writing she also enjoys watching how the European Basketball Odds are doing and watching her favourite sports teams.
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