The Hilarious Story of American Football Abroad
In case you have never heard of the World Championship of American Football (which is entirely likely), we must begin your introduction by stressing that it is not the same thing as the Super Bowl. The Super Bowl is a three-hour beer and soda commercial starring flaccid old rock stars and the occasional female rapper. The World Championship of American Football is the world championship of football (the type that is played in America).
It's been held every four years since 1999, making it just as storied a tradition as the World Cup, which is the world championship of that silly bullshit football they play in Europe. The series is organized by the International Federation of American Football (IFAF), whose 64 members include countries like Kuwait and Moldova (which we're pretty sure was one of the sovereign territories of Vigo from Ghostbusters 2). The organization is also based in France, because as Euro Disney has unquestionably proven, France is the greatest place to put transplanted American culture.
And Kuwait famously loves their goddamned football.
For the first two iterations of the event, the United States wasn't allowed to compete, because it was felt that they would be too dominant at a sport that depends heavily on the use of the word "American" in its title. However, in 2007, the IFAF finally agreed to let the U.S. participate, albeit with heavy restrictions -- American players had to be college graduates (not current students), but they couldn't be more than a year out of school. In addition, all levels of college play had to be represented, which meant that for every former Michigan Wolverine or Oklahoma Sooner on the roster, there had to be a half-blind tight end from Traylor Edwards' Online Technical Institute.
"... he's a great player, which is why we'll be shoving a live gerbil up his ass before each game."
Despite those handicaps, Team America crushed their opponents, scoring 133 points in three games while allowing only 27 (though to be fair, the final against Japan went to double overtime). However, this solid American victory didn't even get a passing mention on ESPN, which suggests that the quality of play is such that spelling bees are more entertaining.
The U.S. came back in 2011 and killed off what little drama remained, netting 176 points and giving up only 21, including a 50-7 unrestrained mugging of Canada in the final. (In their defense, the Canadians thought they had to punt on every third down.) The quarterback of this dream team, Cody Hawkins, went on to play for the Stockholm Mean Machines, which speaks to the level of talent America fielded that year.
Mexico finished fourth, but they led the tournament in camaraderic ass grabbing.
So, while every four years the United States gets knocked out of the FIFA World Cup by some African country 90 percent of Americans couldn't even find on a map, the ultimate American tournament in a sport that only Americans are good at has been waged across Europe. And truly, there is nothing more American than being invited to a foreign country to play a game nobody there cares about, winning said game in an embarrassingly decisive manner, and then bragging about the victory to the aforementioned people who were barely aware of the game in the first place. We're already looking forward to the 2015 tournament in Sweden, where we hope that an entirely new system of numbers will have to be invented in order to keep track of all the points America will score. Provided there isn't a spelling bee that same day, of course.
You can read more from Mark, including all the latest updates on Lithuania's U17 woman's flag football team, at his website.