American football is super popular in North America, but it doesn’t hold up over the other continents. Or, does it? Believe it or not, the Asia-Pacific has quite a few fans. So much so that they even have their own football league.
The Asia-Pacific Football League
Founded in 2014, the Asia-Pacific Football League is a semi-professional American football league with 12 teams. Included in those teams are Australia, China, Japan, Korea, New Zealand, Singapore, and Taiwan.
All but Japan, New Zealand and Singapore have two teams, while the latter have one, with South Korea being the current champions. Although these countries are better known for their joy of soccer (check out Casumo for soccer slot games amongst other incredible online casino games) their respective populations have shown enough interest to make an American football league a worthwhile prospect.
The APFL runs at 13-weeks and starts after Labor Day and ending right before Christmas, with each team playing eleven games. The North and South divisions play a single-elimination tournament in the playoffs, which culminates to one team winning the Asian Bowl. Those winners will then play the champions of the United European Football League.
It goes without saying that a sport needs to be popular to have a league, and The Asia-Pacific Football League gets enough viewers to keep the league going. Since the league is still new, most American Football fans will opt to watch the NFL. This was especially true before the APFL, but remains true now.
The NFL’s Popularity and the Interests of Chinese Youth
The NFL’s Super Bowl isn’t just popular in America. The Super Bowl has millions of viewers from all over the world, and China’s youth is starting to take notice. It’s a common sight to see Chinese children play the sport now, as they’re attracted to the heavy contact of the sport.
The education on the sport is still limited, and most of the children playing barely know the rules, or even what a touchdown is. The interest in the sport is still fascinating, although most of the children have no dreams of becoming NFL starts. It’s common for Chinese youth to lose interests in sports after high-school to focus on studies.
Still, thirty of the thirty-four provinces in China have at least one youth training program, or an adult team that trains for the APFL. Over 3,000 adults play on 76 organized rec leagues or tackle teams. The growth of the rec leagues have been large, considering there were only 400 players with 8 teams five years ago.
Could China be the Next Frontier of American Football?
Tom Brady, the New England Patriots quarterback, has mentioned how interested the Chinese were about football. The NFL actually opened and office in China in 2008, but the time difference is adding some difficulty about increasing the popularity of the sport.
Games start a 7:00am, and most of the population watched alone. This doesn’t stop the viewers though, as the Super Bowl LIII aired the morning of Chinese New Year to more than 8 million in mainland China.
A lot of professional coaches, or ex-football players are going to China to coach both the youth and adults, and with more Chinese growing up around the game there will be more players in years to come. Over 40,000 children under the age of 12 participate in the sport, with the number set to rise to as high as 120,000 by 2020.
The Patriots are the most popular team in China, but along with Brady there have been other Hall of Famers who have visited China. Barry Sanders, Joe Montana, and Jerry Rice have all made the trip, with Wilson having traveled twice. Brady thinks there’s a lot of opportunities in China for American Football.
“It would be great to grow the sport,” Brady commented. “It takes obviously a big commitment to make the trip over there for the teams, and I’m sure the NFL has to do a lot of things in order to make it.”