OK, now that's out of the way, onto the discussion of sports and why some of them do or don't cross the pond well.
Let's start with football. I mean real football, played with your actual feet. The most watched and played game in the world, except in the US. In the US, football is called soccer, for the reason that football is something completely different. Don't worry, I'll get to that.
Soccer players throughout the world are revered as heroes and compensated as such. In the US, other than David Beckham, who is English, soccer players are virtually unknown. They play a sport that is seen as mostly for girls and has never gained momentum over here.
I think I know the reason why. Soccer is a game of two halves, each forty-five minutes long, played hard, by eleven men on each side, without a break. Scoring goals is difficult, the game is skillful and tactical and it's possible at the end of a full ninety minutes for the final score to be 0-0.
So, what is? The American version of football: played with your hands (go figure). Here's a game where there's not just one team: there's offense, defense and special teams, as well as people who actually use their feet: punters and kickers, and each one of these teams has separate coaches. The guys are decked out with enough padding and helmets to enable a safe journey into outer space, and the game is divided into four fifteen-minute quarters which can take three hours to complete on account of the TV commercials, time-outs and other stoppages. As for scoring, instead of a lowly one point for a goal, you get six points for a touchdown, with an extra one or two points for a conversion, and three points for a field goal. This means you can get very high-scoring games.
Is there skill involved? Absolutely. Quarterbacks can nail throws I marvel at. Running backs have lungs that never give up and can run like gazelles being hunted by cheetahs. Kickers can get a field goal from over fifty yards out. But this game has never really succeeded in crossing the pond because of one important fact. Rugby.
Ah rugby. If ever there was a more brutal team sport, I don't know what it is. Boxers and martial arts competitors duke it out one-to-one and even they have some padding. Rugby players enter the fray with just shorts and rugby shirts and maybe a mouth guard. Watching rugby is watching hand-to-hand combat. You can hear bones cracking and flesh ripping, and watch as noses are literally put out of joint. Most rugby players aren't pretty. They may start out that way, but time takes its toll. Take a look at the picture of Mike Tindall below, who just happens to be married to one of the Queen's grandchildren. He won't be on the cover of Vanity Fair any time soon.
To Brits and the rest of the world, rugby is the real deal, played by real men without helmets and padding. American football is never going to cut it in the manliness stakes, despite how big some of the guys are. The question will always be: take all that padding off, ignore the TV commercials then come play against one of our rugby teams and we'll see what happens.