Lifestyle & Belief

Are you good enough to play pro football in India?


A detail of the uniform and whistle of an NFL referee.


Doug Pensinger

Are you good enough to play pro football in India? Probably. Would you want to? Probably not.

That's what I came away with from this Time magazine profile on the opening weekend of the new Elite Football League of India, which also features teams representing Pakistan and Sri Lanka.

"In terms of play, the game was reminiscent of a U.S. high school matchup," writes Time's Elliot Hannon, whose Uday Park Rangers are two places behind my sixth place Meandering Exiles in the foreign correspondents' fantasy football league. (Go Exiles!)

"The stands were rather empty, some of the passes woefully off target. Since most locals have never played the game, the league targeted rugby players in the region, as well as athletes playing other sports. Amit Lochab played for India’s national rugby team before suiting up for the Delhi Defenders as a running back, linebacker, tight end and kicker. Bangalore’s star running back, Roshan Lobo, only got the position after the team’s top two running backs took jobs with the Indian government."

Hannon writes that the promoters managed to salvage a little bit of entertainment out of the fiasco by taping and editing the games (taking a cue from reality TV shows like "the Contender"). And they were somehow able to rope in television channel Ten Sports, even though ESPN ended its broadcast of the real deal, America's National Football League, several years ago due to lack of interest.

Still, you can't knock the enthusiasm, even if it does seem a little, well, insane.

“Our timing is dead-on,” Hannon quotes league CEO Richard Whalen as saying. “One day the Mumbai Gladiators will be worth more than the New York Yankees.”

The day after the zombies get Manhattan, perhaps.