Exeter, Devon UK • Apr 18, 2024 • VOL XII

Exeter, Devon UK • [date-today] • VOL XII
Home SportGlobal Exeter Demons: Is American Football Becoming a Global Sport?

Exeter Demons: Is American Football Becoming a Global Sport?

Joseph Terry reflects on his time following the Exeter Demons and considers the global situation of American Football.
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American Football match, Wembley Stadium
The San Francisco 49ers played the Denver Broncos at Wembley as part of the 2010 International Series
Image: vtravelled.com, via Flickr

American Football is based mostly and unsurprisingly in America, that’s stating the obvious. However the sport is more popular than ever before.

For years the NFL has been attempting to expand their reach, and they now have the best chance to succeed. British and Welsh eyes are drawn to Louis Rees-Zammit’s odyssey onto the gridiron – the brightest spark in the Welsh national team leaving Rugby Union in his prime to chase after an NFL dream, inspired by his dad and his time at the Cardiff Tigers side in the 1980s. The Welshman has joined the International Player Pathway, a crash course in Florida to give players the best chance of entering squads, and has been training alongside athletes from Gaelic Football and Aussie Rules, among other disciplines.

Over 100,000 people attended two games in Frankfurt last November.

As well as the cross-code appeal of the NFL to athletes, there is cross-continental appeal to the NFL. The International Series fixtures are the backbone of international outreach – the bonanzas at Wembley Stadium and then Tottenham Hotspur Stadium in London, and at the Azteca in Mexico City. Did you know however that Germany has a thriving American Football culture, and that 100,000 people were drawn to Frankfurt over two games last November? Or even better, that São Paulo will hold the first Brazil series fixture in 2024 – who love American Football just as much? And if you needed even more proof of the growing international prominence of the game, a 2025 fixture at the Santiago Bernabéu will be a sight to see.

Pulling away from the international scene, grassroots popularity is building. BUCS Uniball is a growing discipline and, as I view it, is on the edge of growing into a major BUCS league. I started following the Exeter Demons this season, and what a time to start following the squad. Unbeaten in the South Western Division, dominant in attack and defence conceding on average 6 points per game whilst scoring 39. The Demons are on a one-way road to the season-ending playoffs as top seed in the draw. The Demons are favourites to represent the South at the final in Loughborough.

The Exeter Demons are unbeaten in the BUCS South Western Division.

Commenting on the Demons’ fixtures for XpressionFM has been a blast – and proved to me again and again why I enjoy watching the sport. The heave-ho chants of ‘defence’ on the sidelines. The raw energy of the D-Line celebrating a tackle. The brutalist physicality of 60 minutes that looks like 60 hours on the faces and bodies of the roster. Nothing beats a sporting spectacle, and no one quite does the show like the Demons.

When you pick away the Taylor Swift influence, the mainstream appeal of the Super Bowl, there is momentum building towards the growth of the game that is meaningful and sustainable. American Football has the best opportunity to become a truly worldwide sport, instead of being a slice of American Pie we’ve cut.

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