"I have loved football as an almost mythic game since I was in the fourth grade. To me, the game wasn't even grounded in reality. The uniform turned you into a warrior. Being on a team, the mythology of physical combat, the struggle against the elements, the narrative of the game..." ~ Steve Sabol (NFL Films)

Wednesday, February 15, 2023

And Here We Go, Again...

Dear Jaded Spring Football Fan,

Well here we are, for yet another XFL launch. One that seems as promising as the last two (or three if we count the AAF as it was a bastard child of the original XFL), filled with all sorts of proclamations, energy, hype, etcetera. I would mention the new USFL, but unlike Vince, we weren't bombarded with hyperbolic proclamations and press events like each version of the XFL has done. No, USFL 2.0 kept their roll out low key and business like, unlike the over-the-top images the marketing arm of each version of the XFL has blasted into our living rooms and on to our social media feeds. 

After the second version of the XFL failed, the league was more or less sold for scrap, at a cut rate bargain by the good fine folks at Red Bird. Unlike the wrestling con man, who anyone who can read people knew was going to screw everyone he employed, the new owners seem very committed and hopefully have a fully developed business plan to keep the promises to all of the fans they have been making proclamations to, be it on Twitter or other social media. I for one have looked for it online, but the only plan they seem to be putting out is from fans who don't know the long history of failed football by their repeating of the same line, "but, The Rock.."

I blame certain XFL media sites for a lack of due diligence in hyping up Red Capital in their coverage of the league, particularly when it comes to the CFL/XFL merger talks. Some of the commentators and editors attached to these XFL information service hubs often put out misinformation based on their ignorance as to the CFL, Canada, and the whole history of CFL American expansion. These podcasters drove me nuts with their lack of history education and lack (like me) of any professional credentials. I mean, if you are going to make comments on the history of the CFL, at least read more than Wikipedia. A smart podcaster, like me, would at least join the Professional Football Researchers Association (like I did many years ago!). 

Yet, despite their lack of CFL education, ignorance and their oft employment of what appears to be high school students and wanna-be Adam Shefters, they have, since the merger talks ended, done a great job of learning from their mistakes and now advocate for a strong CFL and understanding of the Canadian game. They have now found their mark and cast their reach far and wide via their podcasts and YouTube channels to cater to CFL fans. Yet, I still cannot help but remember, these are the same Americans who thought Canadians live in "providences" and not "provinces" and believe the people of Toronto have an appetite for minor league American football, forgetting the fact that the people of Toronto prefer the NFL over the CFL, and thus negate their rumor mongering that Argonauts want to join the XFL.  However, despite their lack of any due diligence, there are other XFL newsrooms that do a great job, don't spread rumors and do their due diligence. But I digress...

So here we are, on the verge of the new XFL season on Sunday (here in Japan, Saturday in North America), and spring fans (who represent a small sliver of football fans at about maybe 5% if I am being generous) are likely to NOT BE disappointed. Much like opening weekend of the AAF and XFL 2.0 where the crowds overall did not disappoint, I expect this opening weekend to have both big crowds and ratings. But remember, it's not how you start but rather how you finish, and if it finishes like the USFL season does, then friends, we might have hope for a second season. Again though, there is that word, "might," for it represents what the believers of spring football stand for, and that is hope, and for the hard-core fans of this twice failed league, that is what they live for.

XFL fans, for better or worse, are some of the most passionate fans out there, despite the fact that their league is the sports equivalent of computer vapor ware. However, this time around the manufacturer may actually deliver, and the XFL might in many years become the spring sports equivalent of Apple and do what the original USFL could have done, deliver on the promise and possibilities of spring football with new innovations and exciting game play. The XFL might even be so successful that they merge with the USFL and, and this to me is still what I am very open to, save the CFL from itself.  Yes, the power of three leagues is more powerful than just one, and if the XFL is a steady hit for the next several years, pundits like me who question the viability of spring football might finally be proven wrong. 

One final thought. Why don't we have an XFL video game yet. Surely at least the fine folks at TecmoBowl.org are on this and have a game in development. For without a videogame, as the CFL has found out, no one outside of your fan echo chamber will care about your product, and without creating new young fans via technology, your sport and league will surely die. Just as the CFL, my CFL, is doing a little bit each year. Hey Dwayne, make an Xbox & PS5 (and PS4 one for me) game a priority. Hopefully that will light a fire under the CFL and save them from themselves. 


Greg James 

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