After playing the game for a while it becomes somewhat of a mystery why Americans haven’t taken to Rugby the way the rest of the world has. It seems to have everything a drunk American sports fanatic would love: Tradition, drinking culture, and blood, lots and lots of blood.
So why is it that the United States has found itself as the last frontier of world class rugby? Has the so called “Melting Pot” of the world lost some of its steam? Is dinner served as baked American Football topped with a sprinkling of baseball and maybe a side of steamed basketball? I thought the whole idea of the American way of life resembled more of a buffet than a TV dinner.
America, it seems, has a love affair with sports. We pay our professional athletes some astounding sums of money. Our Universities have become brand names for some of the best teams in the Country. We give our students full ride scholarships to throw a ball around. Instead of enrolling our children in guitar lessons or French classes, we generally sign them up for baseball camp during the summer. We idolize our sports and watch them with tenacity, becoming irrationally attached and incessantly emotional about the outcome of a game.
But still, rugby has alluded our TV screens and peanut galleries since it’s inception. Why is this?
The easy and most obvious answer is…MONEY
When your eyes are glued to the screen as the University of Alabama wins another National Title, we take for grant it the countless commercials we see. Hell, the Super Bowl, one of the most watched events on television is famous for it’s original commercials. This means money for a lot of people.
But taking a closer look at the structure of a rugby game brings up some questions about the ability to live stream a prominent match. The game itself is 80 minutes long with only one half, known for its continuous play. On the contrary, American Football is played with four 14 minute quarters, built to stop and go throughout the plays. As a capitalist company trying to make the most out of their marketing budget, American football is the obvious choice to place an ad.
Rugby’s salary CAP isn’t the most attractive to the actual athletes either, and we can even compare to the best in the world. One would think the Leicester Tigers in the UK get paid pretty good, and they do compared to a teacher’s salary. But it’s dwarfed standing side by side to even the NFL’s bench. We have some of the best athletes in the world, but if Rugby doesn’t make any money then our athletes will continue to play something else that does.
So is all hope lost for American rugby fans? Will our cry for the Eagles continue to be muffled by the sound of “take me out to the ball game”?
But rugby IS the fastest growing sport among our youth, as reported by the Boston Globe. From 2008 to 2013 it beat out other sports like Lacrosse and Hockey by 81 percent. Carlin Isles, America’s famous winger, has a video on YouTube that has over 6 Million views. Countless clubs are popping up all over, in big cities and small towns alike. We even have a professional league premiering this year in Philadelphia.
I conclude with the fact that nobody likes to do something they aren’t good at. And as an American, it has been hard to watch a game of the USA Eagles play a match, just to get creamed by the opponent.
But this is changing. I invite everyone to tune into a match to check up on our guys to see how they are doing. You might be surprised.
We have built a team that is winning games. We have a really good shot this year to qualify for the World Cup in Rio. And the more support we give, the more momentum we’ll have going in.
Check out some of my other articles following the USA Eagles and their road to the World Cup here
For a more in depth look at Rugby salaries check this article out
For Boston Globe’s inside look at the growth of American Rugby