Tuesday, August 7, 2012
Roger Goodell's Olympic Dreaming
Because surely, when he came out in favor of American TACKLE football to someday be an Olympic sport, he deserved to be laughed off the podium.
Skip Oliva, writing for Saturday Down South, actually did the legwork to peel back just how "deep" the current global participation in our beloved gladiator game runs.
Answer: "not too deep."
The IOC requires a sport be widely played in at least 75 nations spanning four continents to merit consideration for the Olympic program. Even by Goodell’s count, the IFAF is at least a dozen members short. And judging by the most recent IFAF World Championship, held last year in Austria, the depth and quality of international American football leaves a lot to be desired. As you would expect, the United States easily won the gold medal. Only eight nations participated in the tournament. Unlike more established international competitions, where countries have to go through some sort of qualifying, only Europe had enough participants to stage a regional tournament.
Australia qualified as the only representative of IFAF Oceania without playing any preliminary matches, and it showed. The Aussies lost their three IFAF matches by scores of 61-0, 65-0 and 30-20. Similarly, Japan only needed to defeat South Korea to qualify, which it did 76-0. Japan actually won the first two IFAF championships where the United States did not participate. (It should be noted the IFAF games were played on a ridiculously truncated schedule—four 48-minute matches per team over eight days.)
The 2011 IFAF final—a 50-7 nail-biter between the USA and Canada—was played before 20,000 spectators in Vienna before a stadium that holds more than twice that. Team USA consisted of former college players who couldn’t get into the NFL. I could not identify a single ex-SEC player on the team. The head coach was a recently retired Division II and high school coach.
But for some reason, Roger said he'd love to see it someday, anyhow, so I suppose there is a deeper "long game" strategy in play, or perhaps ulterior motives. Skip is much better at sniffing those out than I am, so if you are curious, read the whole piece.