American football is coming to India

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American football has never really caught on overseas, but a group of investors think the sport can succeed in a place where it hasn’t previously been tried: India.

The Elite Football League of India plans to kick off in the fall of 2012, and Daniel Kaplan of Sports Business Journal reports that its backers include some familiar names to American fans, such as Ron Jaworski, Mike Ditka and Packers linebacker Brandon Chillar (pictured), who is of Indian descent.

The league’s investors believe India will embrace a popular American sport once Indians are exposed to it, and they’re reportedly already training rugby players in American football. A deal to televise games is in place.

Exporting American football to India sounds like an extremely uphill battle, but if the EFLI is serious about investing in the sport, the NFL should embrace it: With 1.2 billion people and a growing economy, India could some day become the NFL’s second-biggest market.

53 responses to “American football is coming to India

  1. American’s exporting things to India? That’s never been done before;)

  2. Can’t see how it will ever compete with cricket i’m afraid

    Football (soccer) hasn’t really caught on and rugby hasn’t at all – every kid in the street wants to play cricket and plays it literally everywhere and with anything they can find

  3. Chillar just wants to have a place to play when he’s out of the NFL in two years.

  4. I think this is awesome.
    I’ve always dreamt of a “World Cup of American Football”. Would be awesome to see strategies and tactics from all over the world. IMHO it would be much more varied than the copycat league the NFL has become.

  5. @winkeroni, India has one of the fastest growing economies right now. They aren’t 3rd world like so many want to think.

  6. Love how people resist change. The sport will continue to grow like all others. The NFL will always be king just like the NBA still is in basketball. They just now play basketball all over the world. Expand to all countries. It can be a bridge between the cultures but America doesn’t seem to want anything to do with that anymore. Sad.

  7. Hadji from the old Johnny Quest show always looked like he had the tools to be a Free Safety, IMO.

  8. Announcer:
    “The RB for the Calcutta Lepers runs around the line and hits open field. He’s at the 50, 40, 30, holy crap a cow was crossing the field so the RB had to stop and let him pass and he got tackled at the 25 yard line.”

  9. Dear knuckledraggers,

    Please read some books on economics and finance and realize that the exporting of the NFL will not only help grow the business (as all businesses need to do) but help prevent your ticket prices, directv costs, and merchandise from astronomically outpricing your wallet. And long term it may relieve thousands of fans in (Oakland, Buffalo, JAX, MINN) from losing their team to another market.

    Smart Guy

  10. kitezen says: Aug 3, 2011 2:15 PM

    I think this is awesome.
    I’ve always dreamt of a “World Cup of American Football”. Would be awesome to see strategies and tactics from all over the world. IMHO it would be much more varied than the copycat league the NFL has become.
    There IS a WC of American Football.

    The US won it 3 weeks ago in Austria, defeating Canada.

  11. 1.2 billion people!

    That means in India, if you’re a one in a million type of person, there’s still 1200 people EXACTLY like you.

  12. @Chocopoppy – Please explain to us Knuckedraggers how expanding the NFL or a subsidiary in any way “relieves thousands of fans in (Oakland, Buffalo, JAX, MINN) from losing their team to another market.”?

  13. As an American living in India, I just can’t see this coming to fruition.

    1) Soccer–the world’s most popular sport by far–hasn’t taken hold. India routinely loses matches to “powerhouses” like Bahrain. And with a population of 1.2 Billion, they still can’t qualify a World Cup team.

    2) India is a third-world nation. A million times over. Sure, they have rich, global elites on top of their food chain, but there are more people living in poverty in India itself than the entire continent of Africa.

    3) You can’t even watch the NFL in India. Not even on satellite. The Super Bowl is the ONLY game televised all year.

    4) India is not an easy place to do business. It was one of the most corrupt places on earth; its endemic. They’ve been four *huge* scandals there this year, including the Commonwealth Games. India isn’t plug-and-play.

    5) Can the wisecracks about Indians. They’re generally nice people, if not a tad dishonest.


  14. American football has never really caught on overseas…
    You know what? Overseas football, no matter how hard the media tries to tell us otherwise, has never caught on in America either.
    Why don’t you stop jerking around and leave American football in America, and whatever the hell that other football is-leave it where you found it.

  15. Umm… their national sport is something that requires 90% of the team to stand around or sit on their arse 90% of the time.

    They drink coke between innings.

    Even the stereotypically “athletic” Punjabis can’t hold their own against a college football team, much less the calber of the NFL.

    The plan must be to replicate NFL Europe. ship a buncha slackers that couldnt make it on NFL rosters off to India and hope it attracts a robust viewership.

  16. @kmart0319: “Please explain to us Knuckedraggers how expanding the NFL or a subsidiary in any way “relieves thousands of fans in (Oakland, Buffalo, JAX, MINN) from losing their team to another market.”?”

    The ability of the NFL to bring in additional revenue via foreign markets, foreign TV dollars, or even a $1B London or German expansion franchise fee, helps prop up the profits of the NFL owners and makes it less likely that they’ll jack your $75 ticket to $125, less likely that they eventually scrap pr trim back the free over the air TV games in favor of a PPV system, and it may even give enough $ to a struggling owner to help him stay in Jax, Buff, etc.

    I will grant you that the last point may not be strong because you could say that a franchise could also be lost to a move — e.g. Tampa Bay to London Buccaneers, but I think you get my point.

    Besides, what do you care if the NFL works on some foreign ventures? Has one game per year in London really affected your life? You mouthbreathers need to put down your cheap beer and chill out — it’s not like someone is saying
    we’re taking the NFL away from America.

  17. I spent four months in India, during the 2008 NFL season. I tried to get some Indian friends to watch Bears games with me, and they tried but weren’t interested. (Don’t respond with a Bears joke please)

    On the other side of the coin, I went to a couple cricket games with them, and was extremely bored.

    In other words, American football in India would probably succeed about as much as televising cricket in the US.

    However, if you lined up Team India vs. Team Pakistan, it doesn’t matter what sport they are playing, you could still get a billion people interested.

  18. They may as well send players over there to play for a lesser price…works for every other business lol

  19. It’s a great idea! American football is a great sport that we all love so why not see it expand into Asia. Europe obviously failed but Asia could thrive.

    Wow…sad to see all the racist jokes on here.

  20. “buckybadger says:
    Aug 3, 2011 2:17 PM
    @winkeroni, India has one of the fastest growing economies right now. They aren’t 3rd world like so many want to think.”

    Have you ever been to India? It is still very 3rd world and one of the dirtiest places on earth. I do a lot of business in India and shudder every time I have to travel 30 hours to get there. SOME segments of the population may be getting rich, but there is still a massive disparity in wealth and the govt just doesn’t give a darn about the poor. The cities allow herds of cattle to roam the streets because they’re sacred fer chrissakes.

  21. India vs. Pakistan in anything (cricket, soccer, lacrosse, snake-charming competitions) is akin to Eagles vs. Giants, or Packers vs. Bears. Except that the losing side is prone to lobbing a few artillery shells over the border afterwards.

  22. Apu says:

    free squishees from the Quik-E-Mart on the day of the India league Super Bowl

  23. 15 hours + connector flight time each way in the air to play a preseason game. I nominate Vince Young’s Dream Team and the New Jersey B team.

  24. I think i remember plans about making teams in different european contries which still participated in the NFL, and i really liked that idea .. i wonder if the long travel overseas for every game not played at the homefield might be too big of a problem, but if it could work i would LOVE it!

  25. @Chocopoppy
    I never said I was worried about the NFL leaving. I just think that no matter how much money the NFL takes in, Nothing will stop the owners from holding a city hostage unless they get a new stadium, new deal, etc.

  26. @buckybadger

    I was born in India, and trust me. It IS 3rd World. Just because it has one of the worlds largest (and fastest growing) economies does not mean that India is not a poor country. The disparity between the rich and poor is more pronounced in India than maybe anywhere else on Earth. There have been some major strides in infrastructure in the big cities (i.e. roads, bridges, malls, parks etc.) but the majority of India still lives like its the 19th century. That said, I’m not sure football will catch on. Indians love their cricket…

  27. I go to India every year. American football has no hope of supplanting cricket. It’s the only sport people will care about. It’s a religion. American football requires coaching, proper nutrition, and desire to play or watch, which are all lacking in India. Epic fail written all over this. No one will watch.

  28. Great news for the football fans in India. I would contemplate moving back to India for good if this happens. Football is one thing I thought I would miss the most if I move back to India that I have enjoyed the most. I tried subscribing to NFL Video streaming in which I could get the games for one team and it didn’t work out good in my last visit. You might want to know that there are lot of people who were in America moved back to India for good and have addicted themselves to this great game. Plus the 1.2 Billion people, if NFL can sell the game to 100 Million people it would be a great success. Also there are avid sports fan in India who follow Indian cricket. So there is a logical reasoning to sell this product to a country that is fast growing.

  29. I am Indian!!!! So I know it will fail!!!

    Football in India will suck bcuz there are too many vegetarians an they don’t like “ass kicking” sports!! They’re not physical!!!

    Hell! Indians are so wimpy instead of riots we let ourselves get hit by sticks as a way to protest 4 independence!!!

  30. BTW, I meant “for independence”!

    Ditka & Jaws are CRAZY to have faith in India as a “Football Country”!

  31. Awesome. My dad lives in Mumbai so I am now officially a fan of the Mumbai Gladiators.

    fritzerland, thanks for the great commentary and the good word about the Indian people. I hope you are having a great time there. Although I think you are right, I am really hoping that we can export this great sport around the world, especially India.

  32. No matter what everyone says about India being 3rd world , 4th world country and all, and no matter if its true.. Fact is – as someone above has already said. There are PLENTY Of NFL Lovers in the country already , one part of that population is the “Returning Indians” (who have stayed in USA for years and migrated back to India) .. all of they (which Includes me) are dieing to watch the games live (or even recorded ) … till 2007 i suppose “Ten Sports” used to show some games but then from 2008 no channel shows them.
    If the above news comes good , then I will be very happy ; but i doubt that since its already Oct 2011 and the news was from Aug 2011 and still no sign of any game on any channel here 🙁 ..
    btw :who ever says that the sport might not get popular here for sure – might be in for a surprise , yes cricket is religion and all but the young generation is very much open for other sports .. check out NBA trp’s … check out European football trp’s .. what i mean is- when i was growing up , probably 1 out of 10 kids wanted to play something other than cricket – but now that ratio has gone up to atleast 5-6 out of 10 !! .. so i am sure the NFL broadcasters will not be disappointed …

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