It’s Super Bowl weekend as the Cincinnati Bengals take on the Los Angeles Rams. Without question this is the pinnacle of the football calendar. An estimated 117 Americans will tune in to watch this year’s showpiece.
People simply stop what they are doing – whether it’s playing at one of NJ’s top sports betting sites like those found at NJxGambling.com or fixing the car – parts of the country come to a standstill. However, with the pending rebirth (in 2023) of the XFL, perhaps the football season won’t have to come to an end on the second Sunday of February.
A Brief History of the XFL
The XFL was the brainchild of World Wrestling Entertainment supremo Vince McMahon. He first founded the league in 2001; however, it was scrapped after only one season. McMahon launched a rebooted version in 2018 aimed at creating a faster, simpler game than what is offered by the National Football League (NFL).
Yet, midway through the first season in 2020, the lockdowns and cancellation of all sporting events due to the Covid-19 pandemic forced the league to shut down, and soon after, McMahon’s company filed for bankruptcy.
Enter a consortium led by Dwayne ‘the Rock’ Johnson, who was himself once a defensive lineman for the Miami Hurricanes, to purchase the XFL for a modest $15 million just before it was due to go to auction.
It was proposed that the XFL would return in 2022, but that has now been delayed, and the current plans are for a return in February 2023 – immediately after Super Bowl weekend.
Can XFL match the NFL?
The National Football League is 102 years old. The game, for all its ups and downs, pros and cons, is part of the fabric of American sport. It’s impossible to imagine anything taking its place. We’d assume Johnson’s consortium, which also includes Dany Garcia and RedBird Capital’s Gerry Cardinale, knows this.
Essentially, it’s not an ‘either or’ scenario. The purpose of the XFL is to provide an enjoyable and entertaining product for existing football fans and to hopefully attract some new viewers too. There is a void in the calendar, which XFL hopes to fill. After the Super Bowl, US sports enthusiasts turn to the NBA and NHL, as baseball doesn’t get going until April. However, these teams play multiple times a week, whereas XFL football is only on a Saturday or Sunday evening.
The XFL battle
There are a number of rule changes that separate XFL from NFL football. Many of these were seemingly implemented on a trial-and-error basis. If it didn’t work, it got thrown out. While understandable for a game in its fledgling years, supporters and viewers generally want a finished product rather than a ‘work in progress’ kind of effort.
Then we have the players – will XFL be able to attract the quality needed to make the games worth watching. For armchair fans, we watch sports to be amazed and inspired by the individuals playing. If the quality isn’t there, we simply don’t bother.
This leads us to a major difference between XFL and NFL. The NFL has a longstanding rule that it will not draft any player until three years after leaving high school. This means that they tend to go into the NCAA (college football) system during this period. The eligibility requirements are different for the XFL, so potentially, it could snag some top high school/college prospects and lure them into the league from which they could later be drafted into the NFL.
Ultimately, the question isn’t about the XFL reaching the heights of the NFL (which it won’t), but more for offering a viable product that creates value to viewers, players, and others involved.
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