Why The XFL Is Here To Stay

George Attwood, Assistant Sports Editor

Human beings love new things. A new coat, a new pair of shoes or in the case of the Extreme Football League, a successor to the original Extreme Football League that ran for a single season in 2001. For the first time in a long time, it appears that it is now a league that has a longevity, meaning sports fans will have football between the Super Bowl and the start of pre-season.

In previous years there have been attempts to have an additional football league in the United States. There was the XFL in 2001 that lasted just one season and then the Alliance of American Football that lasted just 10 games and left its players stranded all across the country.

The big reason that these leagues were not sustainable was due to a lack of money. The new and improved XFL doesn’t appear to have that issue, since it is owned by Vince McMahon and his company Alpha Entertainment. McMahon sold $100 million worth of World Wrestling Federation stock to fund Alpha Entertainment which in turn used as the money to fund the league for at least three seasons. Before the season even started, the XFL had already sold more tickets than the AAF had during its 10 week season. This is already a good indication that for now, teams won’t struggle due to a lack of money.

One way that the XFL is trying to be different from the National Football League is by having different and exciting rules. They have scrapped extra points and instead are giving teams a chance to score up to three points after a touchdown. They have the option to go for a one-point try from the two-yard line, a two-point try from the five-yard line or a three-point try from the 10-yard line. This encourages teams to be more aggressive on offense and it also means that a team is never really out of the game until the timer shows three zeros.

One of the big complaints that fans have with NFL games is that the games last too long. The XFL is built so the games run quicker and have a much better pace. They are able to do this by having a 25-second play clock and an official whose job it is to place the ball at the line of scrimmage. These little details should mean that games are more exciting and don’t drag as much.

In addition to the different rules, another way the XFL can stay competitive and relevant longer is if they are able to pay their players more money. This maybe isn’t a viable option right now but in years to come, if they can start to pay the players a wage that would be competitive with the NFL, then they could attract more high profile players. As a league, if the XFL could get one or two stars, it would really help them develop and grow their brand and stay relevant. Stars run entertainment, and if they want eyes on their league, they are going to have to pay to get their stars on their fields.

Unlike the AAF, the XFL has placed some of the inaugural franchises in big NFL markets such as New York (Guardians), Los Angeles (Wildcats) and Seattle (Dragons). The benefit of this is that you know that there are big-time football fans who would potentially want to go watch more football. This was seen in the Seattle Dragons inaugural home game where the fans were vocal and passionate about their team. Just under 30,000 fans were in attendance. Considering the league is only in its second week, these numbers are a good sign of a fanbase developing. In addition to this, the XFL is going to be embracing gambling. With gambling almost encouraged and with different rules and new ways to score, it means that there are more ways for people to make money betting on the games which means more people could potentially watch the games. This, in turn, could lead to an increase in ticket sales.

For the fans not buying tickets for the game, the XFL is trying to make the games fun for those watching on their couch. One way they are trying to do this is by having sideline reporters. One of whom is Pat MacAfee. MacAfee is known for being one of the best NFL punters in recent memory and for being a funny man with his podcast. The inclusion of reporters like him makes the XFL stand out as something different. Some people may watch the games just to see his side-line interviews or him aggressively celebrating a punt, all of which we saw in the opening weekend of the XFL.

For the first time in a long time, players who never made it to the NFL have a league in which they can showcase their talent and ability. At the end of the day, it is never going to be the NFL, the XFL will always be the secondary league. For the next few years, the majority of collegiate players will want to play in the NFL. However, the XFL has a chance to be a solid alternative for players who would have only ever made the practice squad on an NFL team. With tickets sales going strong and fan bases starting to grow, the XFL has a legitimate chance to succeed.