Roger Goodell believes football ‘absolutely’ should be an Olympic sport
During an appearance on “The Dan Patrick Show” Friday, NFL commissioner Roger Goodell said that the American brand of football should “absolutely” be an Olympic sport, saying the league is “already taking steps to gain that IOC recognition.”
Speaking to Pro Football Talk’s Mike Florio, who was sitting in the host’s seat for Patrick, Goodell spoke to not only the growing popularity of the sport internationally, but the dramatic increase in global participation in playing the sport, saying, “We have, I think, 64 countries that are playing American football now, and that’s one of the requirements. That’s been growing dramatically — I think it was 40 just five years ago.”
Goodell stressed that this isn’t something the NFL is looking to pursue in the near future and that further global development of the sport is necessary before any thought of actively petitioning the IOC to grant Americanized football Olympic sport status, but the goal is to grow the sport to a point where it makes sense.
“Our point is just to keep growing the game,” Goodell said. “We’re having a tremendous reaction in London and the UK for the game of football, our regular season game over there is sold out again this year, we are seriously contemplating as early as 2013 playing two NFL games next season and I think we’ll do that. It’s a response to the tremendous fan reaction and the growth of the game. If we can continue to grow the game there and have the fan reaction that we have, there very well may be a franchise in London.”
While the eventuality of an NFL franchise being placed in London is further evidence of the evolving popularity of the sport internationally, what truly needs to occur is for more countries to develop football programs within its youth sports and grow the game from there. Still, even if the decision was made that professional football players from the NFL would be precluded from participating as Olympians, the amateur contingent of football players in this country would demolish their presumably inferior international counterparts, and it will be that way for some time, and that probably will not change in our lifetimes. And let’s not even begin to get into the scheduling logistics involved in attempting to organize a football tournament in the few weeks the Olympics are held and the risk of injury in playing several games over such a short period of time.
Further, can you imagine the best of America’s collegiate football players taking on some squad from Barbados or Japan or pretty much any other nation? The scores would be akin to the outlandish predictions of how “Bill Swerski’s Superfans” saw a team of “DITKAS” overwhelming their inferior opponents. All the scores would be “Two hunnerd-and-two da tree,” only with a battery of meat wagons lined up along the sidelines.
Still, if Goodell can somehow continue to generate a groundswell of support among members of the IOC and against all odds get football that much closer to one day being an Olympic sport, he deserves all the credit in the world.
[Pro Football Talk]