In his latest column for the Chelsea website, our resident American blogger asks the question whether there is space to follow another side in another sport, or is your time dedicated solely to the Blues?
Are you obsessed with Chelsea all year round? Even in summer do you spend hours poring over transfer speculation and digesting snippets of gossip, or researching players on the internet that we are linked with?
Or does your attention switch to another sport? Are you a cricket fan who goes to watch your local county team, are you glued to the TV for Wimbledon, do you love the Olympics? This week here in New Orleans, I realised how much the Saints, our NFL club, dominate the sporting landscape.
The Pelicans, the city’s basketball outfit, are going through a tumultuous time. Their standout individual - one of the superstars of the NBA - has announced he wants to leave, during what we at home would call, “the business end of the season.”
But listening to morning radio all week, the discussions were monopolised by the comings and goings at the Saints during the NFL’s free agency period. Even though their campaign finished almost two months ago, and they won’t take the field for a competitive contest for six months, it was more important and newsworthy than the current basketball games.
Being a free agent for an American football team is like being on a Bosman. As with everything in gridiron the details are ridiculously complicated, but it basically allows him to move for free. His new employer does not pay a transfer fee, offer any trades, or give up draft picks to take him on. He is out of contract, negotiates a deal with a rival, and takes off.
Now of course the transfer window in Europe leads to increased speculation in August and January and a big capture leads to a media frenzy. But I feel that even though football is the UK’s most popular sport, the off-season pastimes such as cricket and tennis would still be covered and discussed. Apparently it’s different in the Big Easy.
The Blues play competitively for 10 months every year, the Saints’ season is half that. As Chelsea are competing around five-sixths of the year does that mean less daily focus? Does familiarity breed contempt? Is it because the American football year is so short in comparison that the press and public are used to debating it at length while it’s away?
Whatever the reason, I’m grateful we still have two months to go before I turn my attention from football to cricket, or from soccer to baseball.