XFL lost its chance to improve NFL quality

Summer is a time for life and activity. A time when everything that wasn’t killed during the winter and/or reborn again in the spring can bask for three months before the advent of fall when the cycle begins anew. Oh, can’t you just see the sun shining and the little woodland animals joyously singing? I know Disney owns the rights to such scenarios. Yet somehow, somewhere, all of the life and virility of summer has eluded the XFL – the extreme football league forced to cancel operations after its inaugural season.

Rest assured, such a disappearance is by no means a return to the Great Depression for the citizens of America. The one tear shed over the league’s departure – in some wrestling-watching hut in the armpit of the country, no doubt – went all but unnoticed by the rest us. But the XFL had a purpose in our society; one we have squandered. No, it wasn’t to teach us the dignity and tradition that coincide with any of its bizarre rule changes. Nor was it to provide a large, open space for alcohol consumption that would make even John Belushi’s Bluto proud. The XFL’s inherent value was in its future possibilities as a tool.

During its existence, the NFL has had to deal with numerous rivals trying to take their own cut of the football-watching audience, including the United States Football League and the Canadian Football League. But as time has passed, each of these leagues has fallen by the wayside and disappeared from public attention. As such, the common assumption was the XFL would merely follow suit, even though its owner, Vince McMahon, has succeeded in marketing wrestling into one of the biggest sports entertainment venues. But unfortunately for Vince, you can only sell your soul for ratings once, and the league folded.

It’s a pity because the league itself would have been a benefit to the average American football consumer by providing competition for the monopolistic NFL. Would the XFL have ever defeated the NFL? Most likely not; the NFL has too much history and the XFL was just too gimmicky. But that doesn’t mean the league would not have been useful. A feigned interest in the XFL would have forced the NFL to work to make itself better, and in the end, the average football fan would have benefited because the league they truly care about would be better than it had been before the advent of the XFL.

But the league can sit tight now the XFL has disbanded. In fact, it was so black-balled during its existence, it really never had a chance with few or no big names on the rosters, and working as your key color guy, a governor whose novelty is quickly waning. This isn’t even to mention the hoards of sports casters who, just like obedient bobble-head dolls, condemned the talent level of the XFL compared to the NFL.

Yes, and the NFL is bursting with talent. The Vikings haven’t had a decent cornerback since Carl Lee in the pre-Randy Moss days – as it is known to many of the purple faithful. Not to mention that in a league of 30 teams, less than half have what could be described as a decent quarterback. Fortunately, the Vikings are willing to help the ratio by making any quarterback look wonderful. And we aren’t going to give any points away for scrambling. Everyone in the league already has a running back and no NFL team runs the option. If you’re playing quarterback, then throw the stupid thing!

The XFL would have been useful as well. In addition to competing with the NFL for fans, the XFL would have been a wonderful type of development system for the big leagues; similar to those found in hockey and baseball. Because the NFL has the big money and can offer the big salaries, they would have always secured the top talent, but much of that could have been developed in the XFL.

In an age where so many players are leaving college early to sign contracts in the NFL, a developmental league would be more useful now than ever. In the end, the average football fan would have benefited because the level of competition displayed before them would be of a higher quality – athletes who actually understand when you play quarterback, you’re supposed to throw the ball.

The XFL, however gimmicky, would have given the average consumer a better chance to watch the best football possible because it would deliver more options to the market. But with its disappearance, we have lost a chance to take a unique stance against some of the problems the public has with big-time sports, and possibly attain a little better situation for us, the sports consumer.

As it is now, the only thing the NFL really has to fear is the prospect the Raiders’ Al Davis still owns a team in their league. We had a chance to observe pure capitalist competition in the sports market but that’s gone now, and the average fan will have to go back to keeping his complaints to a huddled mutter.