In July, Sports Business Daily reported that a regular season game between the San Francisco 49ers and Los Angeles Rams in China was planned for 2018. The contest would replace a home game for the Rams.
Now, Pro Football Talk is reporting that the NFL's plans to play a game in China have run into some stumbling blocks. "I would say there's a low likelihood of it happening," NFL executive vice president of International Mark Waller told Albert Breer of Sports Illustrated on Tuesday. "But we're working hard to see if we can make it work."
Problems with a regular season game in China include a 13-hour flight from Los Angeles, the 15-hour time difference from the West Coast, and a 12-hour time difference from the East Coast. That's not just hard on the players that have to adjust to practices at very different times, but tough for scheduling the game so that both China and United States fans could watch.
When do the teams get back?" asked Waller. "How do you schedule them? Does it affect the teams coming back? If we want to do this in China, it has to be a good time for Chinese fans, but also so that U.S. fans can watch. And we want to make sure we can keep growing it."
Another issue would be the NFL's worry that the game might not sell out. Even if it does, how do you grow the sport in China from that point?
Waller said that a final decision on a game in China probably won't be made for another couple of months.