American Football: The first game of the Munich Ravens – Sport

Breaking new ground was not easy. Even from a distance you could hear drumming and noise from there, but the access roads were blocked. Cars with foreign license plates roamed through residential areas, looking in vain for parking spaces, and crowds of people queued at the entrances and food stands. Some only heard the national anthems of Austria and Germany blow by from there.

The Munich suburb of Unterhaching has not experienced such a rush or comparable euphoria in a long time, even if its residents still remember the heyday of its footballers. However, they would not recognize their stadium this Sunday: the large grandstands are well filled, the lawn is divided into yard lines, men with helmets start to dive, run and roll at 1:08 p.m. – and each of their actions is that each first in the history of the new Munich Ravens football team.

It didn’t start well in terms of sport, because the Raiders Tirol, the first guests in the history of the Munich franchise team, managed the first touchdown after a few minutes. The hosts’ first successful run was then accompanied by deafening cheers, which showed that it was by no means a non-specialist audience that satisfied his curiosity. It didn’t take long for Munich to score the first touchdown, through Jannik Nowak, for the history books. They even took a 14:6 lead. Quarterback Chad Jeffries hinted at why boss John Shoop calls him “spectacular.” It must have been a challenge for Shoop to form this completely new team: in two months of preparation, he said before the game, you first had to find out together what you were good at. The guests equalized, the first quarter ended 21:21, at the break it was 28:38, and in the end 38:59. The established guests prevailed.

After the game is before the game, you can certainly use the old Sepp Herberger saying when dividing the football turf a few more lines than usual. Because the question that hung over this premiere game was, given the 5000 tickets already sold in advance, whether this would only be a short-term phenomenon or the prelude to something big. And what that would mean for the sport in Munich and the long-established first division club Munich Cowboys.

The European League of Football (ELF), which has been playing games since 2021 and has gained an eighth German member in the Ravens, has had a few failed predecessors, starting with the Football League of Europe in the mid-nineties. The similar sound might remind skeptics a little of the Judean People’s Front and the People’s Front of Judea, a scene from the Monty Python film “Brian’s Life” in which one is outraged at the other (“Split!”). But maybe the ELF is actually more professional than its predecessors – or the time is just right for it. In any case, the general football boom is apparently continuing after the extremely successful guest appearance of the American professional league NFL in Munich last November. The ELF reported that 30,000 fans are expected for the Hamburg Sea Devils’ first home game against Düsseldorf. 20,000 tickets are said to have already been sold for the season finale in Duisburg. The official number of viewers at the premiere in Unterhaching was: 6238.

In principle, American football in Germany, and not only here, experienced a split

In principle, American football has experienced a split in Germany, and not only here: On the one hand, the German Football League (GFL), which has tried for years to embed the US sport in classic German club thinking, although they already do it alone due to the size of the team, it can only work with professional structures – and whose responsible association president has stubbornly resisted innovations for years. And on the other hand, there is now a Europe-wide league that depends on making a profit, but which has to steal the talent from the clubs because, unlike in the USA, there are no players who can be recruited from the university. And now these two leagues start their respective seasons almost simultaneously: The Ingolstadt Dukes, for example, started the new GFL season a week ago.

Whether and how the two faiths can coexist in the future is an open question. There are said to have been initial talks on the subject of training allowances for eV teams, but without concrete results. In Munich, the Ravens emphasize that they are striving for a peaceful coexistence with the Munich Cowboys, but from the Cowboys environment it can be heard that there were attempts to poach them until just before the start of the season. A total of 15 players had already changed within the city alone, after all, the Ravens can at least offer a small salary, which at best reimburses most players for travel expenses. “Our goal was to bring players from all over Bavaria here,” said Ravens sports director Sean Shelton, who was last quarterback for the Raiders Tirol – and “surprised” by how much work it was to form the new team. In fact, all Bavarian teams have recently reported departures.

At other locations that are home to an ELF team and a first division club at the same time, such as in Tyrol, the teams seem to be stealing spectators from each other. For the cowboys, the average for the season was just over 1,000 visitors. The spectators at the Ravens premiere in Unterhaching should not have been concerned at first. “Every single one” of them is needed now, the stadium announcer begged when things went worse in the third quarter. Even if it was the beginning of something big, the history of the Munich Ravens began with a defeat.


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