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The rise of American Football in the UK

The UK and USA have always had a special bond when it comes to cultural references. The two have impacted each other’s society for a very long time. This has not changed in recent times and it especially has not changed when it comes to sport.

However, sport has caused some divisions over the years between the two countries. Both countries have different sports as their most popular. In the USA sports such as football, basketball and baseball dominate whereas in the UK soccer, rugby and cricket are the most popular sports.

Some sports have not taken off in the respective countries for generations such as soccer in the USA which struggled for popularity even with hosting the World Cup in 1994. However, in the UK football (American) is starting to gain some recognition within the country.

College football in the USA is huge. College sports are so popular that you can bet on the games by using different website or like on the new betting site the pools, it is not like that in the UK. The system of college sports differs massively to that of the UK and their university system. With scholarships available for sports more readily and the college program offering more opportunities professionally.

In the UK players are often sought after by the clubs/ teams and they are trained with their respected teams in the academy sides. However, these games can still be betted on but in no way do they attract the sort of attendances that you see in the USA.

In terms of football in the UK it is nowhere on the main scale like it is in the USA. However, since 1987 the UK has had a national league for American Football. As of 2021, the BAFA National Leagues has 60 clubs from England, 8 clubs from Scotland and 1 from Wales and is split into three divisions but with 13 sub leagues split geographically.

The sport in the UK has profited from the commercial success of the NFL and the readily available games shown on Sky Sports and the BBC. It has also helped that an annual game was held at Wembley stadium from the NFL with the latest game between the Houston Texans and Jacksonville Jags with the Texans winning 26-3 in November 2019. Since the deal at Wembley expired games have been held at the Tottenham Hotspur stadium with the New York Jets, Atlanta Falcons, Miami Dolphins and Jacksonville Jaguars all playing in October 2021.

More and more people are taking up the sport in the UK and they are wanting to play at a local level. It is not an expensive sport and clubs around the country are helping with kit and equipment in any way they can. Since 2019 the NFL academy has been set up to help players experience a higher level of training and coaching as a step towards the NFL in the USA.

Amateur players will be encouraged to see that four players from the UK currently play in the NFL. Julian Okwara (Detroit Lions), Christian Wade and Efe Obada (Buffalo Bills) and Jamie Gillan (Cleveland Browns) were all born in the UK or brought up in the UK (Graham Gano, New York Giants, was born in Inverness but grew up in Florida).

American football has well and truly taken off in the UK but it will be a long time before they are challenging the levels of the NFL.


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