New XFL keeps football season rolling

Matthew Smalbach

Americans can’t seem to get enough of football. Over the past few years, different leagues have tried to fill the lack of football in the National Football League’s (NFL) long off-season with alternative leagues to catch the attention of the NFL’s fanbase. Last year, the Alliance of American Football (AAF), an alternative football league, lacked quality play so television ratings and game attendance eventually dropped to the point where the league was finally disbanded before finishing the season.

This year, the XFL, a spring professional football league founded in 2001, has made a comeback. The league was originally seen as more of a gimmick than a “real” football league that could allow talented players a second chance at professional football. The game’s atmosphere had been similar to that of professional wrestling and real football fans began to see the league as entertainment rather than the talent on the field.

Logo courtesy of the XFL

The XFL was recently relaunched with an increased focus on football and playing quality, promoting an even more entertaining and viewer-friendly experience. The league brought in some well-known college quarterbacks as the faces of the league, such as PJ Walker, the league’s current best player, and Cardale Jones, who led Ohio State to a National Championship in 2014.

The increased level of talent is not the only reason that the league has become more successful. New rules and a new viewing experience that includes more insight into the strategy of the game such as pre-snap communication have also added to its entertainment value. New rules include modified kickoffs designed to increase contact and impact blocking as well as the elimination of kicking for points after touchdown (PATs). Teams now have the option of going for one, two or three points. These changes make the game more exciting while maintaining its fundamental rules.

The broadcast has also done a great job of capturing the audience’s attention throughout the game. The television audience gets to listen to all of the play calls going from the coach to the quarterback which provides an insight into the game that the fans would be unable to hear during a normal NFL game. The broadcast also mentions betting lines during the game which brings in more viewers from the betting community. Lastly, sideline reporters are able to interview players during the game, providing instant analysis, raw emotions and reactions from players in real time.

The NFL is the only major sports league in the U.S. without a developmental league. In due time, the XFL could operate similar to basketball and baseball minor leagues and feed players into the NFL. While the reconfigured XFL is off to a great start, the league must sustain itself long-term as the glow of the Super Bowl and football season start to wear off.