Oct 232007

by English Alaister for BigBlueInteractive.com

The New York Giants are on a roll, 5-2 in the NFC East after a 5 game winning streak and a fixture looming against possibly the worst team in the NFL now missing its best player. What could go wrong? Well, we’re Giants fans so we all know that list is endless, but many will point to a game looming on the other side of the pond and all the variables that introduces. In fact, when the game was first announced there was widespread concern that the Giants had let the NFL screw them. A classic case of “the Giants putting the welfare of the league before their own good again” was the refrain from certain forums with right-angled architectural features. Well, needless to say, I don’t really think this is the case and the argument against breaks down into two strands, the pragmatic and the more theoretical.

Let’s take the former first. The Giants clearly stand to benefit from coming to London. By being an early adopter of the NFL’s scheme the Giants stand to grow their international fan base at a rate greater than they otherwise would. The NFL’s major growth opportunities lie outside the US, of which Europe is one of a handful of targeted areas. The Giants have received an overwhelming amount of free publicity and have benefitted from increased appearances on British television in the past few weeks and that’s going to show up in the bottom line for the club long-term. The more cynical amongst us might also notice our plentiful appearances on Sunday and Monday night football the past few weeks.

Another strand of the argument is that the disruption caused by the travel places the Giants’ season in jeopardy. I don’t buy this. A game in London involves little more than a trip to San Diego or San Francisco. There are those of us who commute frequently between the US and UK for work and don’t find any need to excuse poor performance for the following month. Frankly, I think the Giants should be able to perform multiple lunar orbits mid-week, splash land into the Thames and still beat the Dolphins handily. The real question here is this ‘Have the Giants developed the focus they need to not allow this to become a distraction?’. You just know for a significant amount of the past ten or fifteen years the Giants would have allowed a lack of focus and mental fortitude to throw them off their stride. This is a large part of the reason we rarely have had to worry about our January plans concerning the team. I think its this simple, if the Giants allow the Wembley game to be anything other than an important time to demonstrate to the wider world that they’re a very good team then this team is not going as far as we hope. Personally, I think the Giants will be professionalism personified and it’ll be evidence of a mentally tougher team more focused on its football.

So, on to the more contentious part of the argument for the Giants visiting London. Their international fans deserve it. I wouldn’t say we necessarily have a right to the visit but I do commend the Giants for giving their European fans the chance to see the team affordably. I don’t want to get into a discussion about what kind of rights fans have in general over their teams although I do think an increasing trend in sports will be teams questioning what is currently quite a myopic view of their base. I do think when you consider a lot of European fans have contributed a lot to BBI down the years and consider that’s a microcosm of the wider Giants fan base then the argument for the Giants playing in London is obvious. Guys like Walter B, Jason in Oregon, Larry O, Jan in Norway, Tony in Berlin and Limey Pete (to name but a few) were vocal contributors back when BBI was relatively young. All of them do reside or have spent significant parts of their lives in Europe and stand to benefit from the Giants visiting. The links between London and New York are pretty obvious with a large number of employees moving between the two cities for extended periods and this game will be manna from Heaven for a few ex-pats. Stanley Kubrick is probably the most famous example, having spent his last years in England having games shipped immediately from the US! Finally, it bears mentioning that several current Giants have spent significant amounts of their lives over here. There certainly can’t be any harm in the next Osi growing up a Giants fan!

When you think of this game then, I ask you not to focus on the disruption or the inconvenience but on the advantages this brings your team and the joy it brings to a small but vocal part of the BBI community. The Giants are going to get a heck of a welcome at Wembley and this is absolutely the right thing for one of the NFL’s flagship franchises to be doing. It’ll be a great day for us regardless of what happens, I hope it is for you too!

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