It truly does feel like NFL expansion to Europe, specifically London, is inevitable given the length to which the NFL has committed to playing games there and has actually expanded the number of teams playing overseas in recent years. No longer is it the Jaguars chucking away home games, there’s a steady stream of early-morning games for fans to stumble upon when they wake up on Sunday mornings.
There is also the sense that the NFL will do whatever it can to eek out more money from its product before it’s too late, and expanding into a brand new continent sure does seem like a valuable move in the market.
But the NBA is different, both as a product and a league. And Adam Silver has made it clear that the NFL has a significant advantage in potentially making European franchises permanent. The edge the NFL has is clear: the bye week.
Silver’s logic here makes sense: If it’s truly a race to invade European soil, the NFL will win because they can do very little alteration to its current schedule to shoehorn another team based in London into the current 17-week season and not create too big a stir. For the NBA, major changes will have to be made, and more time off would be essential to combat the long flights and ensuing jet lag that comes with trans-Atlantic travel.
The NFL seems like it will win this battle, but one thing the NBA seems keen on is setting itself up for the long-term. Whether football is around in the future honestly might be up for debate, really, so maybe it’s better to bet on the NBA winning the long game even if it loses the initial race.