College games are win-win for Ireland from both a sporting and economic point of view

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College games are win-win for Ireland from both a sporting and economic point of view

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'College football as a major sport predates the NFL and that historical tradition is perhaps the major reason it inspires such fanaticism among its followers' (stock picture)
‘College football as a major sport predates the NFL and that historical tradition is perhaps the major reason it inspires such fanaticism among its followers’ (stock picture)

It’s great news that Notre Dame will be playing a college football game against Navy in Dublin in August 2020. The last time the two sides met in the Aviva, in 2012, they brought 35,000 fans over. You could hardly turn a corner in the city without bumping into a Yank.

The next instalment here in two years’ time will be the first of a five-year series of college football games in Dublin. The announcement on Thursday afternoon laid heavy stress on the financial benefits of the fixture which is expected to be worth €250m to the economy. That’s obviously great news for the hospitality industry. But even if you don’t own a hotel, a bar or an outlet selling green clothes and ‘kiss me, I’m Irish’ T-shirts, the arrival of these games should still be cause for celebration because it means one of the world’s great sports is coming to Ireland.

Those unfamiliar with American sport might wonder why there’s such a fuss about a college game. But college football is an extremely big deal Stateside. Its top flight has the third highest average attendance of any sporting competition anywhere, after the NFL and the Bundesliga. Even then this 42,203 figure is slightly misleading because it includes the games played by the lesser lights among the 130 teams in Division 1A.

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