American Football: where do I sign up?

This weekend the New England Patriots will take on the Seattle Seahawks in a bid to become the 49th winner of the Super bowl and take home the prestigious Vince Lombardi Trophy.

Super bowl Sunday is the biggest sporting event of the year, with an estimated 150 million people watching it worldwide.

In the past, Brits have been a little sceptical of the sport. To many it was a softer version of rugby. But opinions are changing, and this Sunday, thousands of people across the UK will stay up throughout the night to watch the match.

A large part of this is down to the National Football League’s (NFL) International Series, which has seen at least one game played annually at Wembley since 2007.

In 2013, Wembley staged two games. One of those matches, between Minnesota Vikings and the Pittsburgh Steelers was played out in front of a record crowd of 83,519 people.

2014 saw three games grace the UK’s national stadium, and this year, for the first time, will include regular season games, a first-ever division encounter as well as matches played on consecutive Sundays.

We’re also seeing British athletes attempting to give it a go, most notably sprinter Dwayne Chambers, who turned to the sport after testing positive for drug taking.

And a number of NFL owners are turning their attention to English football most notably Fulham FC, which was sold to in 2013 to Shahid Khan, the owner of the Jacksonville Jaguars.

Is American Football taking over the UK?

The moment American Football was aired on terrestrial TV in the 1980s clubs slowly started emerging. Now, some 25 years later, it’s becoming one of the fastest growing sports in the UK.

There are now a number of Great Britain-level teams, a growing number of women participants, and we’re starting to see colleges and universities running their own American Football teams.

Each year participation levels continue to grow. According to statistics published in 2014, in 2011, just 19,500 people above the age of 16 played American football in the UK. That figure has now jumped to over 40,000. It’s an enormous rise, which is only going to get bigger.

Are you interested in giving it a go? The British American Football Association lists all teams around Great Britain on their website in the club finder section:

Just how tough is American Football?

It might not be rugby, but American Football is tough. In fact, it’s downright brutal and isn’t for the feint hearted. Yes, you have padding – a lot of it – but if offers very little protection from injuries such a whiplash, dislocations and concussion.

If you are interested in playing, but worried about how physical it can be, then why not try Flag Football?

Flag Football is a version of American Football where the basic rules of the game are similar, but instead of tackling players to the ground, the defensive team must remove a flag or flag belt from the ball carrier.

American Football Insurance

Whatever type of American Football you want to play, it’s always worth getting insured. American Football is a physical sport. Hard tackling is a part of the game and it’s inevitable that injuries will occur. There is more information about safety advice here. Our insurance policy covers you for third party insurance should you happen to injure an opponent as well as a personal accident option, should you require medical treatment.

As well as protecting yourself, you can also insure you equipment against loss, theft or damage. Remember, under the laws of the game, certain protective equipment, such as helmet, shoulder pads, thigh, rib, knee pads and gloves must be worn at all times. These aren’t cheap. So it’s best to have them covered. For more details on Insure4Sport American Football insurance read here.

American Football basics

  • American Football can improve all skills, from endurance and strength, to communication and teamwork.
  • American Football is split into three teams. Offensive (scoring) defensive (defending) and specials teams (kickers and receivers). Each area focuses on a different element of the sport, which requires varying skills and technique.
  • American Football is heavily centred around tactics, more often than not, determining what the other team might do based on their formation and movements. Some liken it to a game of chess.
  • American Football isn’t just about brute strength. Speed, balance and agility and mental resilience are traits are what you need to be the best.

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