Can American football succeed in China?
“Football in America is closely associated with working-class communities, the ready-made tableau of small towns throughout the South or Midwest where collective esteem rises or falls according to how the local team did. This isn’t always how it works elsewhere. In England, for example, there remain pockets of middle-class NFL fans who turned to the sport after the hooliganism of the 1980s left them alienated from soccer. In rural China, the NFL’s flag football initiatives have helped democratize the playground; nobody grows up playing the sport, so there’s no natural hierarchy. They can all — boys and girls — be awful and then learn together. But in cities like Beijing or Shanghai, football seems to represent the cosmopolitan or exotic — it’s the distinction associated with being into something others just don’t understand.”