Grab a Seat

Our global sports guide takes a pass on US football.

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For millions, the obsession begins about now, as the cooling air and browning leaves harken another season of football in North America. Some fans will don jerseys and hibernate in TV dens while others will watch the adrenaline-fueled body blows in person, inside shiny, modern coliseums filled with restaurants and shops and any number of opportunities to drop a dime.

Contrary to at least some fans’ notions, of course, the National Football League isn’t the only game on our globe. In fact, while much has been discussed about a mysterious decline in US football fan spectating, many other countries’ sports leagues are doing just fine. But it does take a true sporting connoisseur to keep track of all the leagues out there. Few executives pit-stopping in Tokyo will know to check out, for example, a Yomiuri Giants game. And fewer still will try to witness the All Blacks, which happens to be a New Zealand national rugby team whose world dominance is unprecedented.

All of which may be a shame, since pro sports outside the US can be a ridiculous bargain. (Prices at some US venues have jumped 50 percent even since the recession.) And besides, sporting experts say it’s hard to calculate the true value of something as intangible as a sporting event. “It isn’t always the marquee matchups that matter most,” says Paul Swaney, who reviewed 500 stadiums for his website Stadium Journey. Think atmosphere, nice ushers, good viewing lines—all in plenty of supply across the globe.


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