American football in American Samoa

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American football is a popular sport in American Samoa, and a significant number of Samoan players have played in the National Football League (NFL) in the United States. Football in Samoa is played by the same rules as in the United States. In 2010, the island was home to twenty eight players who played in the NFL; a number that has increased each year.[1] This success has given many young players in Samoa the hope that one day they will be able to play professionally in the U.S.


American football did not arrive in American Samoa until Reader’s Digest published an article titled "America’s Shame in the South Seas." This article stated that simple lifestyle of the island was really just economy of poverty. President of the United States John F. Kennedy took notice to this article and responded in a short amount of time. He did this by leading an effort to change the ways of the island. In this effort, Kennedy ordered an airport, hotel, school, roads, and homes to be built. In doing this, television came to the island and introduced football to the Samoan people.[1] The natives welcomed the sport with open arms.

Island culture[edit]

In Samoa, like many ancient cultures, everything is done together just like on the football field. The parents and grandparents are the most respected members of the family. The elders are responsible for making sure the children learn about the culture and traditions of the island. Even though the elders are the ones that teach the children about the family’s values, the kids are still expected to learn the culture through observing the parents at all times. Initially the children perform chores with an older sibling or someone close in age and try to emulate their every move.[2] If they are doing the action wrong, the parents will tell them to make sure they do not repeat the same mistake. While the children receive feedback when they do wrong, they are still expected to figure what they did wrong on their own instead of being told.[3]

College and recruiting[edit]

Every year the number of high school graduates from Samoa who go to play college football increases. About ten years ago the University of Hawaii was nearly the only college that recruited players from Samoa, with a few exceptions. Today, schools such as BYU, Arizona, USC, Western Kentucky, Texas Tech, Nevada, and Tennessee-Chattanooga send assistants to clinics that are held annually on the island.[1] There are several obstacles that discourage coaches from recruiting in Samoa. One of these is the expense and time that is required to travel to the island. There are only two airports in Samoa, so it is very difficult to find a flight service to get you there, and the trip takes approximately fifteen hours from the U.S. mainland. Another obstacle is that the majority of the Samoan athletes struggle to meet the NCAA academic standards. The majority of athletes grow up in a bilingual household. This causes problems when it comes to the SAT because the English portion is extremely difficult for the teenagers to complete.[1] Some families realize that this might inhibit their son from being able to play at the college level. As a solution to this language problem, some families choose to send their children to another island or the U.S. proper for high school; they typically send their sons to live with a relative in one of these places.[1]


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