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To give away two pairs of tickets to the NFL’s official Super Bowl Party at the Kerry Hotel Beijing, which the Beijinger is proud to sponsor, we asked Beijinger readers to answer a simpla question: What does the NFL have to do to make American football as popular as the NBA or soccer in China? We received some great answers and thought we’d share them as the game approaches Monday morning.
Ticket winner chinajunk had this to say: “In the last year so so, I’ve noticed a remarkable difference in the way the NFL has approached China. For one, they have made deals with Chinese internet/TV providers to show games. PPTV, LETV, etc. Plus they’ve developed their own NFLChina website. It makes it easier for people here (Chinese and non) to watch games. It helps spread the interest of watching a game among the hoi polloi. And in many cases helps to explain the rules.
“Second, in Beijing I know that NFL China set up the NFL Game Day Experience over a series of weeks at Bei Hang including the flag-football games. This allowed thousands of interested spectators and students from a variety of schools to learn more and immerse themselves in the NFL Experience. And many of them will no doubt be watching the Super Bowl on PPTV or LETV next weekend.”
Our second winner AVolks suggested: “Promote the league by playing exhibition games in major metropolitan centres here in China – Beijing, Shanghai, Guangzhou… Nothing generates local interest better than an event held in your backyard. This is a chance for the Chinese to see these larger-than-life athletes up close, to get a feel for the game, and to experience all of the peripheral activities that go on with exhibition events like these – workshops for kids, press conferences, autograph signings, etc. People have to see it and feel it, then they can relate a bit more to what they see on the screen.”
“Finally, the major attraction of football in my eyes is the aspect of community. Never outside of China have I watched a football game by myself. Having done so in China numerous times on a Monday morning just hasn’t had the same feel, and I’m sure it isn’t because of the time difference. It is because the lack of energy and atmosphere that makes the games so enjoyable in America. Drinking, shouting and camaraderie are the things that really make the sport great. Therefore, for China to find a greater audience, it is important for there to be some kind of community and football atmosphere. The Kerry Center’s football party is a great example of the impact community can have,” wrote reader Haywood_Jablowme (charming).
“After Chinese have been watching the NFL on TV for a year or two, and have some idea of how the game works, and there are some established Chinese players they can relate to, then maybe the NFL can organize a few annual games in China consisting of the top American Football Stars squareing off against eachother, kind of like the Harlem Globe Trotters of Football. Tennis and Soccer are both games Chinese have been exsposed to for a long time, so they can easily relate to them & jump on the bandwagon, but American football is a sport the Chinese do not play, and thus they have no concept of how it works, so it’s going to take awhile to them to wrap their heads around it & become fans,” commented reader Johny_Utah.
Thanks to all of our readers who contributed, and congratulations to chinajunk and AVolks. Still in need of a place to watch the game? Check out our guide to venues showing the broadcast.
Photo: Football Perspective