In its newest attempt to expand the popularity of American football beyond the States, the National Football League is working with the Web channel Sina Sports to stream five free live games per week along with teaching videos and clips, all in Chinese. Organizers are also training teams at six Chinese universities and hope to increase that number to 16 by next year. In September and October, full-contact exhibitions featuring these teams drew large crowds.
What’s the Big Idea?
While certain American sports, most notably basketball, are popular in China, American football is viewed by many as too difficult to understand. When it comes to participation in particular, the country’s one-child policy makes parents wary of sports in general, fearing crippling injuries. To this end, the NFL is also doing its best to highlight the few Chinese athletes who have attained distinction in the sport, including Ed Wang, who played one season for the Buffalo Bills in 2010, and Ding Long, who led his Norwich University team to the league championship last year and was invited to participate in the Jacksonville Jaguars mini-training camp.