Just recently Vince McMahon, entrepreneur and owner of World Wrestling Entertainment, announced the reincarnation of the XFL for 2020. Back in 2001, there was lots of promise for the league except there was one problem, itself. There wasn’t much talent being played to make things exciting and other bad business deals which led it to end after just one season.
McMahon did not market it as well as he could have and it ended up as a bust. But with this renewal of the league, could it work? Why yes, and more successfully than you think. One thing is opportunity. The XFL could be used as a feeder league into the NFL as it is a requirement for players to enter the NFL draft three years after high school and that is one way to use your career in the XFL and another benefit is that you could get paid. Many may remember the whole Maurice Clarett story where he tried to challenge that rule as he made the case that he was of age where he should be able make the money he wants to make (he ultimately lost the case, but he started a big debate about that rule). When you are 18 in the United States, you are declared as a legal adult and you have the right to enter the work force with no restrictions. College is technically a higher education and not necessarily a necessity in this country (even though it seems to be the status quo after you graduate from high school to go to college in this day of age in the United States), but for the most part college is a requirement in order to play football at the highest level. Is that necessarily fair? I don’t think so, but my opinion about the matter is best saved for later.
So alright, you have opportunity as a reason, what might else be a reason why it could be successful? Opportunity again, but more so of attracting fans than anything else. What I mean by this is that you can attract the fans who have been so put off by the NFL and by going to cities who can’t say they proudly root for a football team in their home town. Places like that are Portland, Oklahoma City, Birmingham, and even San Antonio and you could even try to rival the NFL markets in cities like Chicago or Washington, D.C.
Another way it could be successful is if the league made the rules simple (making the catch rule more clear would be simple, right?) The XFL had some great ideas in its first incarnation like the jump ball rule instead of a coin flip (sure players got hurt on those, but honestly, it beats some of stuff NFL players have to go through).
If anything, the NFL should embrace the XFL as their feeder league as players could be more ready for the NFL when eligible and the players would have more money. The NCAA should worry as that means their talent could be poached and their quality of play would dramatically decrease meaning that would be less money for them as fans and media contracts would be more obligated to watch the product on an XFL field.
McMahon has also said that they will start this in 2020, that is not enough time. So many logistics will be needed if they want to do something like this and two years is not enough. If they want this done in two years, holy heck they will have to do it quickly, and thats why I am not optimistic. Four years is more realistic.
So I was a watcher of the league back when it was on and I loved it even though I didn’t particularly realize the quality of play was lacking, but I know it can succeed this time around. There were talks that it should be played during the NFL season as well, but I couldn’t disagree more as I feel like it should start right after the Super Bowl ends. Lot’s of people crave football, myself included, and having a league like the XFL around would be great once the NFL season is over. Football is a great sport, why should it end in February? Football year round would make things great especially for sports fans who want to watch a prime time game before baseball season starts as the NHL and NBA certainly don’t play those type of prime time games people crave, and MLB even doesn’t even offer that as well. That could lead to some TV contracts that could make a lot of money for the league.
And lastly, something to consider, and I know McMahon has alluded to it, is safety. Football is a rough sport as there is a lot of brutality. The whole CTE situation has certainly hurt the sport and it’s something the NFL is trying to figure out. Concussions are more serious than once thought and some of the hits to the brain from the NFL can lead to serious situations. If McMahon can figure that out, this league could even possibly rival the NFL.
Do I think the NFL has anything to worry about? No, for now and for a long considerable amount of time, but far in the distance it could be a worry. The only place that should have a worry is the NCAA and rightfully so. If the XFL actually proves to be successful, the NCAA will make lots of changes.
What will happen in the future is unclear as the XFL has yet to start, but that being said I really truly think the XFL not only could be successful, but could be embraced fully by the NFL. If that’s the case, the sport of football will get considerably better.