The popularity of American Football is rocketing across the globe, with significant progress even being made in Europe, where other sports are normally seen as more dominant traditionally. It has raised the profile of the sport and is another highly enjoyable team game for people to take part in, watch or simply bet on. The NFL seems so well established in America, it’s hard to picture anything challenging its dominance.
Yet, an old foe has reemerged, possibly creating an interesting battle in the news and ratings. The return of XFL has possibly left the NFL with a troublesome competitor in the future. Without a series of unfortunate events, they may already have been jostling for position at the top of the sport. So, does the NFL need to be worried, or due to the global recognition of the league, is their success assured?
Tough Times for XFL
Its opening season took place in 2001, with the league containing 8 teams. Under the guidance of Vince McMahon, who had a reputation for entertainment at the WWE, he presented it as a fun alternative to the NFL. Although initial interest and viewing figures were high, interest quickly waned. Despite reports of a two season tv deal with NBC, it pulled the plug after the first season, which hastened the demise of the league.
McMahon swore he would be back, as he felt they could compete with the NFL. His original plan was to try again in 2020 but the league got caught up in the coronavirus pandemic and was cancelled like so many other sports across America and worldwide. Filing for bankruptcy, it was sold for around $15 million to a group containing Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson, a former WWE wrestler and movie star, his ex wife Dany Garcia and investors from Redbird Capital. It has now been established that XFL will not return until 2023 at the earliest, with the possibility of teams from other countries taking part.
Poor Standard of Players
The XFL have had two attempts to try and breakthrough now and they were certainly unlucky with the timing last time around. However, despite the players that turned out the second time round, the difference in ability as opposed to their counterparts in the NFL was quite noticeable. While it can be overlooked, as they are all of the same poor standard, this does not really appeal to viewers who wish to see players of the highest skill. Chances are, these players would have more luck playing online slots, they would never even get a game in the NFL.
It’s important to have some star players in the sport. Yet, XFL doesn’t seem to have any real characters of the game that could add to its appeal. In its reincarnation, not one star appeared to be turning out in the league. This will not help with sales of tickets or merchandise. Stars don’t want to come because the pay packets of the mighty NFL simply cannot be matched by the XFL, which hinders the growth of the league. They just cannot offer the best players enough to come to join them.
The NFL Have Played it Smart
Trying to ward off any competition, the NFL decided to make a change to hold 17 games in their regular season. This will make it harder for rivals like the XFL to gain any leverage over them as their window of opportunity to gain fans and viewers becomes smaller. The date of the Super Bowl moved to mid February, traditionally being held in early to mid January, however, the event always taking place on a Sunday does seem to be one point of argument with some fans of the NFL.
As players come back to preseason training, interest in NFL tends to rise near the end of July and fans of the sport plan out their attack on fantasy football or their sports bets for the upcoming season. However, for the XFL, it doesn’t give them much time to make any significant strides in increasing interest in their sport. Challenges during this period such as the playoffs in the NBA or even the NCAA event March Madness can make their task even harder. Throw in tournaments like the Olympics or the World Cup and you see the challenge that XFL is facing to make any sort of impression on the sporting world.
Far From the Top
Before XFL can even consider getting close to the NFL, they will have another rival to deal with first. Americans love college sports and football is no different, fans are spoilt for choice. Besides the NFL, this is the most popular football market. Sport is part of college life and has been the subject of many entertaining movies. Students and coaches team together as they try to forge their best path through life. Lively atmospheres and big crowds are standard at these games, with some college stadiums having the capacity to hold a staggering number of people.
American Football is constantly on the TV, giving no respite for fans of XFL to make their case. This year the NFL season will begin in September with games being televised Mondays, Thursdays and Sundays. College games take place from Tuesday through to Friday until the college season is over. That’s a whole lot of choice, so why would you want to start watching XFL as well? Despite seeing the NFL as its main rival, the challenge of college football wil have to be overcome.
While it’s fair to say the world is not waiting with bated breath to see what happens on the return of XFL, there are sure to be some people whose interest has been piqued. Perhaps fed up with playing online slots at home, sports fans will wish to see how it turns out. Will it collapse like all other previous contenders to the NFL throne, or will the business acumen of “The Rock ” and his partners figure out a way to get the sport featured in people’s minds. Vince McMahon will be watching closely.
If anything, it will be an interesting ride for both players and the fans. Maybe this time the concept will not fail and XFL may go from strength to strength. It may in time grow in stature to compete with the NFL, but when it returns, the main goal will be for survival and continuity.
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