Despite what many Americans believe, American football is played in the UK at both international and domestic levels. However, it remains a very small game compared to other competitive sports. As for baseball, this is also a minor sport but is still played here too.
Though many people in the UK love taking part in team sports, there is a significantly higher number of people who much prefer to watch sports either on television or on a live stream. You’ll even find all betting shops and betting sites offering NFL odds – and people enjoy betting on this league here.
History of American football in the UK
The first time American football was played on UK soil was over 100 years ago when US Navy servicemen took part in what became called the Silver Cup, which was sponsored by the Daily Mirror newspaper. There were three Daily Mirror Silver Cup games.
The first game was on Thanksgiving Day in 1910 when a team from the USS Idaho played against a team from the USS Vermont. Idaho won 19-0. The second took place two weeks later between USS Idaho and USS Connecticut. The Idaho team won again with a score of 5-0. Finally, the third game was on 24th December between USS Rhode Island and USS Georgia. The winner this time was USS Georgia with 12-0.
American Football in the UK now
Though American football is now established a little, it still has a long way to go here. There are domestic leagues in England, Scotland, and Wales that are organized by the BAFA (British American Football Association). This organization runs league competitions called the BAFA National Leagues and the championship game is the BritBowl. There is also an amateur league throughout the island of Ireland called the Irish American Football League or IAFL.
There have been many NFL games that have been played in the UK too.
History of baseball in the UK and baseball now
Though original baseball has been said to have started in the United Kingdom, modern baseball as we now know it, first started being played in the United Kingdom in the late 19th century – and so predates American football in the country.
The sport had its heyday just before WWII broke out and the war then led to its decline in popularity. However, there are still a lot of players – and even more that are interested in watching the sport. It is estimated that around 22,500 people play baseball in the UK nowadays.
There are now 90 baseball teams coming from 48 different baseball clubs and the sport is growing.
American Football Vs Baseball, which has the most growing potential in the UK?
The truth is that if either sport was going to really catch on in the UK, it probably already would have. Ever since the advent of the internet and satellite television, there has been the potential to drum up interest here. And while there is always a chance that these sports will increase much more in popularity, the truth is that American sports are so fundamentally different, that it could take a long time.
For example, people who are interested in sports in the UK will already (in general) have a team sport that they like watching – and now they can watch that sport at any time of day, they don’t have the capacity or desire to get into anything else.
What’s more, the sporting consciences are just so different. American sports never end in a draw, for example, the clocks count down, and there are more stoppages. Though minor, these differences are fundamental for sport compatibility in the country and might be the crux as to why they’ll never truly take off here. There might be the same kind of ‘team spirit’ and the supporters wearing team colors etc. when watching a game, but that’s about it.
Final thoughts on American football V. baseball in the UK
So, does American football have more potential to take off? Probably. But this is only because it gets much more coverage on UK television thanks to events like the Super Bowl. What’s more, baseball has been around for longer (forty years longer) and if it were really going to take off, it might have already done so by now. Who knows? We could ask the same about soccer taking off in the United States too!