US-Russian Relations: Upward Spiral / News / News agency Inforos
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US-Russian Relations: Upward Spiral

Football could make all the difference

US-Russian Relations: Upward Spiral

Once as a guest on one Russian TV program I threw out an idea that the other participants and studio audience took as a joke. It could be many years of working in radio or just being from Cleveland that gives me a natural sarcastic tone that made everyone take a serious (if unusual) concept as humor. But this was no joke. I would humbly like to explain myself and my potential “solution” to improving the image of Russia in America while giving the new Russian football stadiums extra value after the World Cup.
While I was on that TV show I blurted out an unusual option - that if Putin were able to throw Trump a perfect spiral (the ideal type of pass in American Football) by the next day Americans en masse would take a second look at Russia and approval ratings would rise.
President Putin enjoys an extremely high approval rating that many western leaders would dream of having. The image that Putin portrays of himself to the public works, because he shows that despite being the leader he is very Russian. He is openly and actively Orthodox Christian like the Russian people. He learned how to play hockey which is Russia’s best national team sport. He is a master of judo but he certainly knows sambo the Russian martial art used in the military. He also acts like a normal Russian with few smiles and typical mannerisms that you can see in the body language of people all over the country. Putin’s message to the public from his image is “I am Russian like you”.
As someone who has watched many American electoral campaigns I’ve seen numerous candidates try to do something similar near election time. They attempt to make some sort of demonstration of being “one of the people” but generally fail. It is a hard sell for millions to believe that Hillary Clinton is a beer drinking, fun loving, Protestant and I can tell you that watching Barack Obama try to bowl or do anythign “manly” is pathetic.
Trump, despite being a New York billionaire is able to communicate and act like normal Americans which is a key factor in why he won the election. Trump has simple tastes, wears ugly suits, love pro-wrestling and has a macho typically American attitude. Trump’s image is very average American in the same way that Putin’s is very average Russian. But the question is, would it be possible for Putin to demonstrate that he is “very American”, in the same way? Could Putin presesnt a different version of his image to a different audience? If Trump can triumph over the Mainstream Media onslaught then why can’t Putin?
Of course there are plenty of people who hate Trump, they hate him to near psychotic obsession, but it is important to note that this type of person (bourgeois, liberal, cosmopolitan, SJW) will always hate Russia. There is nothing that Putin could do to win them over.
But what Putin can do “on the American front” is win over some hearts and minds of Trump Voters (conservatives, Christians, Republicans). And, the easiest PR stunt to start this process is to learn to throw an American football just as well as he learned to shoot a hockey puck some odd years ago (Putin only learned to play hockey many years after becoming a central pubic figure).
If President Putin came out to talk to Trump on, say, the White House lawn (or some other nice open location) and gunned a perfect spiral pass to his counterpart, the media and especially the massive sports media would talk about it for weeks on end.
Foreigners have no concept of how important (American) football is to Americans. Currently the most profitable sports league in the world by revenue by far is the NFL. Yes, despite being a country of 330 million people in a world of billions who love soccer, the NFL makes the most money. This shows how important it is to Americans and how amazingly organized and profitable this sport is.
After “throwing the pass that shook the world” if Putin were to propose to Trump to expand the NFL to use the stadiums from the 2018 World Cup, it would put Russia in a massively positive light and send a positive message to sports fans who by and large have no personal gripe against Russia and are more the conservative type who could see Russia as a friend. Essentially this gesture would reach out to those who could be sympathetic to Russia and Putin.
Going beyond just this media stunt, if the NFL and/or Trump were to bite, with a few rules changes, a streamlined American… or should I say “Russian’ football has every chance of success because it has the violence of hockey but on a familiar European football pitch. The popularity of mixed martial arts in Russia also proves that Russians like their sports with lots of contact, which American football offers in spades.
In summary… Learning to throw a spiral pass will take the President one afternoon.  Creating a bond between cultures via American football will forever change the dynamic of US-Russian relations from the perspective of average Americans at the mere cost of a PR stunt and allowing the NFL to set up operations in the World Cup stadiums.  I officially offer my services as American football league commissioner for Russia and the CIS. No one could do this particular job better than I. Let’s use those new stadiums. 

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