The most popular sport in the world is football. Not American football. No no. That weird thing they call soccer in the USA, which has a rising league called the MLS as its ambassador in North America. For the rest of the world, most of it at least, it’s the biggest pass time there is. A religion in many places as well. For good and bad.
It’s always weird that it’s called soccer in the United States, or at best – Associations football, to avoid any confusion with the NFL, college Football; The most important thing on the American sports calendar. But the only thing that has to do with your feet in American football is the few moments when the kicker or the punter come on. Hardly one of the most significant or alluring part of the game.
Mostly, it’s a cultural thing. Maybe it’s the like for high scoring affairs and a lot of opportunities to stop the game. Just like in Baseball, and less so in basketball. Maybe it’s the short attention span; Maybe it’s just so it’s easier to sell products and air commercials. On the other hand, for leagues that obsessed with making money, it is quite confounding how shirts of NFL and NBA teams have remained sponsor-less.
There’s also the way violence is incorporated into the games. (Real) football isn’t a violent game at its base. It’s physical, but there’s no real intent, usually, in tackles and such. Violence, controlled violence, is probably the most essential and attractive thing about American football. It’s the opposite with the fans, who are much more inclined to violent tendencies in European football games than in North America.
But the best way of explaining the difference is just putting on John Cleese’s famous rant about the subject from The Art of Football from A to Z. He’s British, so you can guess what he’s ranting on about.