The Kansas City Chiefs are officially champions of the National Football League (NFL), after coming back from a 10 point deficit to defeat the San Francisco 49ers 31-20. As the cycle goes, the winners celebrated in the streets, while the losers shook their heads and said, “Maybe next year.” Regardless, football fans now have to endure the long period of waiting that inevitably comes after every football season.
Fans usually start watching other sports like baseball or basketball after football season, and some just find hobbies to fill the emptiness that occurs during this period. This can be a very disheartening time for fans with jerseys in closets and a lack of reason to turn on the TV on Sundays.
This year is different. On Feb. 8, the XFL is providing football fans with an additional season of football.
The XFL is debuting again after its failure in 2001. The league consisted of eight teams whose sole purpose was to win the “Million Dollar Game.” Its creation was meant to give sports fans something to watch after both the pro and college seasons had ended, but it only lasted one season.
Vince McMahon, commissioner of the World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE), sought to make the XFL more intense and with higher risks, but this only led to a significant amount of injuries throughout the season. Despite being intense, the league tried to implement the same flare that the pro-wrestling world had at the time with sky cams, sideline interviews broadcast over the stadium speakers and jersey nicknames.
Despite the spectacle, football fans were not fans of the XFL in 2001. Some said this was due to the overall quality of play, while others said it was the presentation and the change in rules.
Whatever the reason, the XFL ended up costing the WWE $35 million in its $100 million investment, causing the XFL to cease operations.
Many companies avoided trying to create another football league, as nothing seemed to compare with the NFL. That was until the American Alliance of Football, (AAF) was created on March 20, 2018.With the same goal as the XFL, the AAF started with eight teams competing to see who was the best.
The game introduced new rules such as the exclusion of kick-offs and extra points due to safety issues in the NFL. The AAF accumulated fans and appeared to be a viable replacement for NFL and college football. However, just as quickly as it was created, the AAF ended April 2, 2019, due to lack of funding, which put multiple players and coaches out of jobs.
The XFL is hoping again to fill this gap, by providing a legitimate replacement for regular season football. The league claims to have learned from past experience and plans to avoid the flashy presentation of its predecessor. It will instead focus on aspects of the game of football rather than presentation. The new XFL will have eight teams, five new rules and one new commissioner, Oliver Luck. Rules are meant to protect players while also providing faster game play.
“What we did is listen to fans,” Luck told ESPN reporters when asked about the XFL. “And what they told us is that they love this game, but they would like it at a little more of a faster pace and with a little more excitement. They thought there was too much idle time. We tried to listen to what they didn’t want also. They didn’t want gimmicks or things that were inauthentic. They also didn’t want to be complicit when it comes to player safety, so what we wanted to do is take a great game and make it a little better.”
In order for the XFL to succeed, people have to watch it. Players and coaches are dependent on the ones interested in the league. I believe that we should also watch sports that we may not be aware of — such as women’s basketball or minor leagues. While these sports may not get the media attention that other major sports do, we have the opportunity to support them. So tune in to NBC Feb. 7 and help support a league that could be a shift in the sports world.