Birmingham Wants To Raise Its Sports Profile Globally

The Alabama city is hosting the 2022 World Games.

02-20-21 STFLA #2242

Birmingham, Alabama is not recognized as a global sports destination. In sports, Birmingham is a college football city and little else but there is at least one person who thinks that can change. Birmingham City Councilman William Parker is of the opinion that the 2022 World Games in the Alabama city will elevate his town’s international sports profile. The 2022 World Games will feature more than 3,600 athletes competing in about 30 sports including men’s and women’s flag football. The National Football League will be a marketing partner teaming with the organizers of the Birmingham World Games in the flag football operations. The National Football League has some presence in Birmingham despite passing over the city for an NFL franchise following the demise of the World Football League in 1975. Owners of two WFL teams in Birmingham and in Memphis petitioned the NFL asking for a franchise but were denied. The league is partnering with Birmingham political and business leaders to promote the Magic City Classic football game on April 17th between two schools from Historically black colleges and universities, Alabama A&M University and Alabama State University. The game was originally scheduled for October 31st but was postponed because of the COVID-19 pandemic. The two schools are part of the Southwestern Athletic Conference. The conference postponed the playing of games during the 2020 season because of the pandemic and opted for a spring schedule. The conference is scheduled to pick up play on February 27th with a slate of games.

The NFL’s involvement with the Magic City Bowl matchup is good for business. The NFL at one time had quotas that limited Negro players per team to four and that lasted into the 1960s. Washington did not have a black player until 1962. The NFL was uninterested in employing a black quarterback. Times have changed.

I’m Evan Weiner.

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FILE – In this Sept. 26, 2020, file photo, Alabama coach Nick Saban leads his team to the field before an NCAA college football game against Missouri in Columbia, . (AP Photo/L.G. Patterson, File)