By Joseph McVey, April 18, 2023
There is no better feeling than waking up and jumping out of bed to watch Sunday football. But as the off-season hits, fans are left to wait six months for its return. There must be another alternative to keep fans satisfied.
In the past fans would have been left with no other option, but as 2023 begins the new professional football league, the XFL has made a return and is hopefully, here to stay.
Looking into the XFL’s past raises red flags in terms of longevity. In 2001, the XFL made its original debut after being created by Vince McMahon, the owner of the WWE. With McMahon in charge, the XFL was bound to fail as he would try to incorporate too much of his entertainment formula from the WWE into a sport designed for competition.
McMahon’s plan was to create a “new” way to play football, completely changing the traditional football rulebook that America was accustomed to. This would ultimately be the downfall of the 2001 XFL era, as ratings steadily declined at a huge financial loss.
After this, the XFL disappeared until 2020, when Vince McMahon rebooted the XFL once again. McMahon seemed to have learned from his past mistakes. Although many rule changes were made to separate this league from the NFL, it still held the traditional competitive values of the sport while doing away with the flashy entertainment aspect that previously drove fans away.
In 2020, I was perplexed by the idea of another football league other than the NFL. Sure, other leagues existed, yet they never really took off. As the XFL started to go viral across social media, my interest was piqued. But just as soon as the XFL returned it fell off.
Stay-at-home orders which came as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic ruined the live football experience and very quickly put the start of the second XFL debut season to a halt.
With the news that the XFL would be returning in 2023, my friends and I were excited but weary. I did not want to commit to a fanbase for a league that was only going to last a few short months. So, we waited for the XFL to prove to us that this season would be different than the last two iterations.
We were surprised to see McMahon had finally backed away from the program. The XFL is now owned and operated by former WWE star and actor Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson and businesspeople Dany Garcia and Gerry Cardinale.
Doubts were still present seeing that ownership had been left to yet another affiliate of the WWE, and I needed to know how the new owners would foster the new and improved program. After a short internet delve, it became much more apparent that this trio would be much more capable of running the league.
Johnson previously had a lengthy football career which would end at the University of Miami. As an actor and former football player, The Rock can be much more knowledgeable on what the XFL can change to make the game more entertaining and what should stay the same to keep the core values of the game untouched.
Similarly, Garcia has a vast portfolio in film producing and bodybuilding, instilling the same balance of entertainment and authenticity into the brand. Cardinale, however, founded the Red Bird Capital Partners, a company which invests and builds up sports leagues.
Despite their impressive resumes, these new owners still have the hard task of proving to fans that the XFL is worth investing in to.
Currently NFL football ratings have been at an all-time high with an upward trend over the past couple of years leaving a large audience of hungry NFL fans looking for football in the off-season. Anyone who watches football knows that this break can feel like an eternity. While the XFL is there to fill the gap, they have yet to leave a long-lasting impression to keep the fans wanting more.
Luckily, they brought back the past teams from 2020, such as the Houston Roughnecks, the Vegas Vipers and the D.C. Defenders cashing in on the die-hard fans of the franchise, but I don’t think this is enough.
Although the XFL provides affordable entertainment with tickets for games costing under $100, it is difficult to become invested when there are no active teams in the California area. Though we all know team expansions can only come with time, hosting games outside of a team’s home cities could be a great way to reach other parts of the country that don’t have easy access to the events as well as give the XFL an idea of what areas would most want a new team based on game attendance in those areas.
Currently broadcast productions feel subpar to other football related televised events. While this is something that can be improved as the XFL’s budgets expands, something that fans can rely on when tuning into an XFL game are competitive matchups and skilled team rosters.
The XFL brings a whole new world to football not only for fans but for both new and returning players of the sport. In a sport where only 1.6% of college athletes make it to the professional level and hardened veterans are taken out of contracts due to a downfall in output and injury-ridden seasons, the XFL provides a second chance for athletes to prove themselves.
This is good for the XFL athletes and greatly benefits the NFL in return, giving opportunities to scout players from the league who may not have been on the NFL’s radar during their time in college.
Some former NFL players such as Ben DiNucci, Josh Gordon, Vic Beasley and Martavis Bryant, have joined the XFL with hopes to find their way back under NFL lights.
Currently, the XFL features a total of eight teams, leaving room to expand depending on its success in the near future. Luckily, the XFL has managed to keep steady ratings as the 2023 season progresses. If this continues, production could easily skyrocket, creating a new competitor or even just a neighbor to the multibillion NFL program.
As a lifetime football fan, there is something that we can all agree on: we can never have enough football. I believe that introducing new leagues which can run alongside the NFL giant could help football as both leagues learn and feed off each other.
Feature image by Jackson Gray
Show Comments (0)