The term “American football” refers to a type of game, not a regional sport. American football is enjoyed world-wide. Professional American-style football leagues exist in Canada, Europe, South America and Japan. NFL Europa is a organization operated by the US based National Football League. NFL Europa has teams in six German and Dutch cities. In Canada, there are 2 organizations, the Canadian Footbal Leage, a professional league, and Canadian University Spot, which is a network of nonprofessional University level teams.
Both Canadian leagues play American style football but with some variations known as Canadian Rules. New Zealand, Mexico, Japan and several other countries have amateur football leagues. American style football is governed by the International Federation Of American Football (IFAF), which has over 45 affliates in North and South America, Europe, Asia and Australasia. However, the true moving force in american footbal is the NFL, or National Football Association.
The NFL is the regulatory and organizational arm of football in the US. It makes and enforces rules for sportsmanship and drug use. When a player behaves overly aggressively during a game, misses practice sessions or becomes involved in extracurricular illegal activity, the NFL will impose a fine and/or suspend a player. The NFL bans recreational and steroid, or performance enhancing, drug use. It authorizes and conducts urine testing on its professional atheles.
The NFL also decides yearly whether the rules of the game should be changed, and in what ways. Often the rules are done to make the game more interesting or more fair. Safety is another motivation behind rule change and the NFL tries to make this aggressive and even violent game as safe as possible by modifying the existing rules and the forms of protective equipment used. However, merchandising is also a factor and the NFL has advocated rule changes, such as a sponsor time out which is a pause in the play of the game, that are solely for the purpose of allowing the sponsor to show commercials.
The NFL decides which cities can have a team and how many teams will make up the two franchises, The Amercan Football League and the National Football League, which originally was the only and prototypic league in American football. Fans have intese loyalties to these two franchises, which is capitalized upon in the yearly Superbowl. This game was established to play upon this rivalry and pits the AFL and NFL Champions against each other. This is held in February and is the single most watched event on American television. It is an event that begins weeks in advance with football interveiws, panels of sports figures who speculate on the game’s outcome, and bettiing oportunities. This hype grows over the weeks of playoff games and builds to a near frenzy by the time Superbowl Sunday arrives.
The game is an all day event with ceremonies and a legendary half time, Las Vegas style, show that features top celebrities. For the multitudes watching at home, the Super Bowl is also augmented by the premeire screening of a collection of the most innovative and often humorous advertising blips. Because of the exposure and the terrific numbers of viewers, the competition to be one of the favored advertisers is nearly as hearty as the team competition to play in this game.
American Football is sweeping the rest of the world and becoming a popular phenomenon in nearly every country. This growth in popularity is slower in countries that have established rugby or soccer francishes but American Football is rapidly becoming as popular as American fast food.