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The XFL is Back, But for How Long?

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The XFL is Back, But for How Long?

Xaiver Aguiar, Sports Journalist

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The XFL: Will it Succeed?

On January 25, 2018, billionaire Vince McMahon rattled the sports world and announced that he would revitalize his greatest failure: The XFL. The XFL was aimed to be a edgier, more innovative alternative to the NFL. From a unique rule set, skycams, inside peaks in the cheerleader locker rooms and a unique fight for the ball instead of a coin toss, the XFL was different to say the least. It was Vince McMahon’s baby and it took the sports world by storm in February 2001.

The league that was supposed to revolutionize football definitely had some great concepts, but it was still a major flop. For starters, the league only had one month between the start of training camp and the start of the XFL season. This was obviously not enough time for a roster with no chemistry at all and coaches with very limited knowledge of their players to create a scheme, build chemistry and really even know what players are better than others. Due to this lack of chemistry and the players not really being that great, the games were giant boring messes and were not entertaining. Many people also mocked the league before the first game, saying the games could be predetermined, as Vince McMahon is of course the owner of WWE (pro wrestling results are predetermined).

Despite all the bad publicity the league still drew a 9.5 Nielsen Rating on its opening telecast. Despite the league’s massive deal with NBC, the league failed to draw much interest after the first game. Attendance plummeted and the product just didn’t compare at all to that of the NFL. It was seen as just a poor man amateur league, that had no business trying to call out the NFL.

After its 10 game season and 4 team playoff, the Los Angeles Xtreme took home the one and only XFL Championship. After the season, the league announced they would not return for another season due to low attendance and bad TV ratings. In the process Vince and his television partner NBC, lost a combined $35 million dollars which lead to them only recuperating about 30 percent of their initial $100 million dollar investment. This was deemed as Vince McMahon’s biggest financial blunder of all time.

However, now 72 year-old Vince McMahon is trying to rectify one of his biggest failures. Vince announced yesterday via a press conference, that the XFL would rise from the dead in 2020. The league is set to start with 8 teams, a 10 game regular season along with a playoff set to crown a champion. No gimmicks this time around, just a football league that apparently is supposed to be all about the fan. Vince spoke multiple times about a “unique” fan experience saying that everything in the league will be about the fan experience.

Immediately it seems that the league will be already,if anything, be more successful than its first go round. With more time to create teams and find places to hold rosters, the games should be more watchable and less confusing than the first time. The first edition of the XFL was extremely gimmicky, it was more about being entertainment than being a football alternative. However, this time around, it’s just going to be faster, more gritty, and geared to fit the consumers’ wants. With all things considered, the league from a football standpoint should be much better. There is also more of a demand in 2018 than 2001. Football fans get extremely anxious during the long off-season, and with all the watching platforms available nowadays, a new product could translate very well to football hungry fans in the social media era.

The biggest initial complaint is that players must stand for the anthem, along with the fact players can’t have a criminal record. That means that the two biggest players available to play in the league, Johnny Manziel and Colin Kaepernick, are seemingly ineligible. Without those two media darlings, the league wouldn’t create nearly as much buzz as it would with them.

Will the league succeed? Who knows. But with the platform it has, mistakes learned, and demand for more content, it will have a much better chance to succeed this time around.

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The XFL is Back, But for How Long?