The UKFL is in a very important stage of its journey right now, as we build our community, offer the first insights into the project. We’ve had a blog post saying what we are doing and when, as well as one about why we are doing it. This week we are going to talk about something that encapsulates all of that. Let’s talk about the UKFL’s core values.
These values are a mixture of things we champion that are larger than us, standards we want to hold ourselves to, and key objectives of the league when it is up and running.
Here are five of the UKFL’s core values.
1 – The success and growth of American Football in the UK
We’ve already spoken about this in our very first blog post, which was linked above, but this has to be at the top of the list. No matter how many times we say it, this won’t be stressed enough. The most important and central objective of our project is to grow this sport that we love to be bigger, better and more widely celebrated in this country.
Growing British American Football refers to the quality of the play in the UK – and that would likely be one of our biggest contributions – but there is another aspect that is not so obvious.
In our previous blog post, we answered the question ‘is American Football popular in the UK?‘, with regard to whether there is a sufficient market for our league. The key takeaway from my research for that post was that the difference between NFL fans in the UK and American Football fans in the UK might be bigger than it should be. While millions of British people like American Football, we want there to be more people who engage with British American Football.
We don’t realistically expect to make people who don’t like the NFL suddenly fall in love with the sport, but we want the people who like the NFL to have a professional league to watch here at home. If you enjoy the sport, you should enjoy it locally. That goal is hard to achieve but it is above all else our biggest objective. Improve the standard of sport available and encourage more people to enjoy American Football outside of the NFL season.
So, how are we planning on doing that?
2 – The best possible experience for both players and fans on and off the field
The way to achieve that first goal is built upon the second of the UKFL’s core values. We want to provide the absolute best experience for both players and fans available in the UK, both on and off the field. Experience means a lot of things, but above all else, we want to have the highest standard of football possible as well as high-quality coverage and exciting, live gameday action.
The standard of the live football experience will be built upon talented players and great facilities and stadiums, with tailgating, food, drinks and more. But then, those who aren’t at the game in person can still look forward to seeing the game from afar with the great on-field product complimented by our coverage and the online community who will follow the league. We plan on having fantasy football and plenty of other ways to engage with the league for fans, too. Everything from streaming games to those at home to hosting special multi-game special events.
The UKFL experience for players will be unparalleled in the UK – and not just because they will be able to get paid to play. The standard of the players in the league, the stadiums and facilities should also allow for them to improve their game and showcase their skills. The league will support young British players to play the best football they can and follow their sporting career into the professional game and offer a new competitive league for players from the US and Europe to play at a high level and elevate that homegrown talent as well as their own.
3 – Professionalism
This should be a given, the word professional is attached to our league already, but it’s really important to us that the league is created and conducted with the utmost professionalism. This starts at the top with our central team building the infrastructure and platform for the league, but then will continue through the standard of officiating, the quality of coverage, the conduct of players and more.
We strongly believe that referring to the UKFL as a professional league means more than paying players. Our goal is to create a professional feeling league from top to bottom. This league should be the best form of American Football in the UK outside of NFL London and to achieve that, it must be a professional and polished product.
4 – Fairness and Parity
Another thing that is incredibly important to use is maintaining balance and fairness within the league. This isn’t something that we can take for granted and will be a key part of our work after the league kicks off in May 2023. Assuring fairness and parity within the league will start from the scouting and drafting process, but will continue beyond. Contracts and player salaries. Facilities and training. We will make sure that we do everything we can to make the league as competitive as possible. To achieve that, we will make maintaining fairness and parity one of our key priorities far beyond May 2023.
5 – Opportunities for future generations
Even if it’s a few years away, this is undoubtedly one of the UKFL’s core values. We are trying to build a brighter future for American Football in the UK. This isn’t just about providing a league. We plan on working with communities and schools around the locations of our teams and just generally trying to put the sport in front of more people.
Recently, someone was confused that Mick and Coach Rooney indicated in their Meet the Team Q&A’s that their favourite sport to watch was football. Not American Football – football. Their reason for this, however, made a point. They grew up with it and have spent their entire lives as passionate football fans. While they both love American Football, their first true loves were their football clubs.
This conversation proved how far we have to go. We need to create that lifelong passion. We want kids to go to a UKFL game, get a hot dog and watch their local team, tell their friends at school and then try it out in a PE lesson when the head coach comes in to work with them.
These opportunities are what UKFL is all about. Coaches and players will have roles in the community near their team. We won’t be satisfied until there are young people playing touch or flag football and getting a taste of the sport up and down the country. There is a clear need for better support, understanding and funding. More young people who are interested in the game, eventually, means more talented players and invested fans when they grow up.
We want to grow British American Football, but not just now. Our goal is to improve the platform for generations, both of players and fans, in the future to experience the sport we love.