Politics Sports

NFL Puts 110 Million Mexicans on the Waiver Wire

November 2, 2010

NFL Ignores Mexico Again, Makes Huge Marketing Blunder

The U.S. National Football League optimistic of multiple games in Britain, not Mexico

Fresh off a fourth straight sellout at Wembley Stadium, the NFL vice president of international business is optimistic the league will be playing multiple regular-season games in Britain.

The San Francisco 49ers rallied to beat the Denver Broncos 24-16 Sunday in the NFL’s fourth regular-season game in London. And with a more than 84,000 fans packed into Wembley, Chris Parsons has already started thinking of ways to keep the momentum going.

Parsons says the NFL will talk to owners in January or February about a game next year. But he says the decision could be delayed by the collective bargaining agreement talks.

“The CBA negotiation adds a level of complexity to that planning process, which we have to then manage around,” Parsons said in a phone interview Tuesday. “That may require us to be a little bit patient going forward in terms of how we move that forward, but whether it’s in one year or two years, we will be playing multiple games, I believe, in the U.K. market.”

Eight of the league’s 32 teams have been to London to play an NFL game at Wembley, home of England’s national soccer team. Although the NFL has not made an announcement on 2011, at least one more game is expected.

If the opinion of the players mean anything, there will certainly be more games in the British capital.

“I though it was an honor to play in Wembley Stadium,” Broncos receiver Brandon Lloyd(notes) said of the stadium that hosted the 1948 Olympics and the 1966 World Cup final. “I loved the fact that the support was strong and seems like the fans are very knowledgeable on what was going on out there on the football field.”

Besides talk of adding a second game to the overseas schedule, possibly in Cardiff, Wales, or Edinburgh, Scotland, the NFL has been also been considering the prospect of creating a franchise based in London.

According to Parsons, it won’t be anytime soon.

“The franchise is a nice goal and I think it’s a tremendous stake in the ground and strategic vision that we can strive for, but I think we’ve also said there are several steps ahead of that that we’d want to make sure we get right before we made that leap,” Parsons said.

Another option for the NFL is playing games in other countries, such as Germany. The country had five of the six teams in the NFL’s European development league before it folded in 2007.

Although Parsons predicted that a game in Germany would be a success, he said the league was waiting for the right time.

“We’ve wanted to make sure that we get the blueprint for success right. I’m a strong believer in not proliferating your approach before you’ve figured out exactly the right steps to make it all work effectively,” Parsons said. “We’re right at that stage now in the U.K. where we believe we’ve done that.

“(We’ll) turn our attention to Germany probably once we kind of move to the next step in the U.K.”

However, China and Japan remain a bit out of reach at the moment.

“Putting a regular-season game in those markets has not been part of our thinking,” Parsons said. “As we move forward we’re looking at other creative ways to engage that fan base, perhaps more through technology rather than live action just because of the travel distance.

“If we do anything in China, which is definitely a possibility, that would certainly be more of the exhibition-type game than a regular-season game.”

What the NFL Vice-President for International business did not say was even more telling.

Given that the 2nd largest crowd to witness a live NFL regular season game was in Mexico City 2005 (over 110,000 people) , it’s strange that, since then, the NFL has ignored Mexico.

The reasons for this are truly unclear because no one at the NFL office is available for comment. Thus, this is writer and 110 million mexicans can only speculate.

First the facts;

  • Mexico is the USA’s largets neighbor and 2nd largest trading partner.
  • Mexico shares the USA’s largest border
  • Mexico has over 110 million people
  • NFL games are broadcast live on Mexico National Television each week. They have their own pre-game shows and famous annoucers.
  • Mexico has a long standing popular College Football system which is equivalent to Div II in the USA and thus is ripe for development of new players.
  • Mexicans have been NFL fans since the days of the Chuck Knoll Steelers and Terry Bradshaw super bowls.   They have a tradition of supporting NFL.
  • There are more San Diego Charger Fans in Baja California Mexico than in the greater San Diego area.
  • The largest growing population in the USA is the Hispanic market, not the Anglo-Saxon market.
  • Mexico City has over 25 million people in an area 1/2 the acreage of Los Angeles.
  • Over 110,000 rabid football fans witnessed the game between the Arizona Cardinals and San Francisco 49ers in 2005 at Aztec Stadium in Mexico City.   Bring in the Steelers or Cowboys and watch that number go to 140,000 people! 

Okay, so based on these facts so you’d think NFL Mexico would be tops of their list for future development, right?  Wrong!

Most importantly, unlike the U.K.’s greying population, Mexico’s  under 25 popultion is the larget growing demographic.  This is where the growth is at not the geriatric greying U.K.?   It simply makes no cents to ignore a market that all international economists believe will be in the top 10 growth markets over the next 30 years. Guess who’s not on that growth list?  Yep, both the U.K. and the U.S.A.

No matter these logical arguments, Mexico is nowhere to be found on the NFL radar. It’s just not there anymore. What happened?  Why is one of the best business success stories of the USA ignoring a real tangible market in Mexico?  Wal-Mart, Costco, KFC, McDonalds, Office Depot, Carl’s Jr, Applebees, TGIFs, and Home Depot get it, why not the NFL?  What is it that they don’t get about real demographics and changing markets?

My educated guess is that older white anglo saxon owners who run the NFL just seem more comfortable dealing with the past motherlands of Europe.  Granted these motherlands are far away, in the wrong time zones, and have greying populations that do not bode well for growth, but it’s quite possible that the old guard just prefers dealing with a culture they more understand.  Maybe the Hispanic North American culture is just too foreign to them to digest?  This speculation is not a statement about racism but a geniune comment of a level of comfort that they may have in regards to systems and culture they seem more able to work within.  

Or maybe they just don’t think Mexicans have the money to support an NFL franchise. That’s a real possibility.  In fact, it’s a proven fact that the general U.S. population does NOT really know much about it’s neighbor at all and that general lack of familiarity may be a huge factor. 

To test, I called up 10 friends and asked them to name the states of Mexico.  9 of 10 said to me “states?”.  They have states in Mexico?   I hung up the phone…..forget it!

Or maybe NFL owners buy into all the FOX GOP NEWS hype that Mexico is in anarchy or falling into, as FOX hosts glowingly and repeadedly say over and over that Mexico is a  “failed state”.  But then again I would hope that the marketing guru’s at the NFL can see through a circus act posing as a legitimate news service and not take what FOX GOP NEWS says seriously at all.   They gotta be smarter than that right?

Look the richest man in the world, Carlos Slim, is in Mexico and he loves sports. It would seem a good fit for a guy worth over $ 50 billion to buy in at $ 1.5 billion wouldn’t it?  Plus, he has access to the markets in all of the America’s.  Add another 300 million people and now, we’re talking growth!  What’s the problem amigos?  Get him on the phone!  

Speculation is always a difficult exercise so who knows why the NFL is looking backwards. 

What we do know that is Mexico, as a legitmate world class growing 21st century market, is being ignored and the biggest loser may end up to be the NFL as Mexico moves to catch up fast to the USA as one of the worlds fastest growing consumer markets over the next 10-20 years. 

In this writers view, the NFL is making a marketing blunder by looking east instead of south. It’s the future versus the past.  To this writer, it’s so simple; all it would take is a check-down 10 yard Mark Sanchez pass over that Berlin-esque border wall and watch 110 million Mexicans catch it for a marketing Touchdown!  

2010 copyright  – Johnny Punish

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  1. Well, if there is any consolation, the NHL and hIce Hockey is growing here in Mexico! I currently run a Hockey program here in Monterrey mexico and on December 10th, 11th, and 12th, we are going to have our first University Ice Hockey tournament with 4 Universities in our area.

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