Opinion: New XFL will need a Hail Mary to survive

The XFL started play this past weekend. Football fans likely are wondering how long it can last.

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The XFL started play this past weekend. Football fans likely are wondering how long it can last.

Jaiman White, Multimedia Editor

Just a week after the NFL’s Kansas City Chiefs won Super Bowl 54, football fans were greeted by one of the most anticipated reboots in recent sports history via the XFL. Throughout all the action over the new league’s opening weekend, one question loomed in viewers’ minds: How long will this thing last?

The XFL is a product of Vince McMahon, who runs the WWE professional wrestling organization. The XFL originally debuted in 2001. It only lasted that one year due to terrible ratings and that fact that it relied on pro wrestling gimmicks, rather than producing quality football. McMahon knew he would have to make some drastic changes in his efforts to try to revive this forgotten league.

There were certainly some positives that came out of the opening weekend of official league play. 

Players, coaches, and even referees were miked during the game, and overall the league created a fan-friendly environment driven by entertainment. Football fans getting to see some familiar faces was also exciting, with many of the players being former college stars or NFL players. It does seem that the league really is trying to provide quality football, rather than relying on violence or sex appeal, to form its new identity.

While it is still incredibly early to predict how far this new XFL will go, historically speaking it is unlikely to last.”

With that being said, the league still relies on a lot of gimmicks. The number of rules that have been added and subtracted in an effort to make the game more high scoring is laughable — especially considering that the games did not yield very high scores or huge highlights.

One thing that could not be ignored was the number of times the announcers mentioned the NFL. 

At the end of the day, everyone is competing with the NFL. In addition to the original XFL, there have been multiple attempts by various leagues to compete with the NFL:

In the 1980s businessman David Dixon launched the United States Football League, which offered fans the opportunity to watch pro football in the spring. Despite having some hall of fame talent, the USFL would fold after just three seasons. It got too big too quickly and had several financially unstable teams before the first season even started. The league also directly competed with and sued the NFL for rights to play football in the fall.

The United Football League ran only from 2009-2012, despite having former NFL players and coaches. It was incredibly small and competed directly with the NFL, then collapsed due to lawsuits and financial issues.

The Alliance of American Football was the most recent startup league, and actually posted decent reviews. After failing to partner with the NFL, the AAF folded after just a couple of weeks in 2019. 

Throughout football’s history, the only leagues that have been able to successfully coexist with the NFL were the All-America Football Conference and the American Football League. But both of these leagues merged long ago with the National Football League. 

Other than that, there has been no hope for competing leagues.

While it is still incredibly early to predict how far this new XFL will go, historically speaking it is unlikely to last. The gimmicks are a little overwhelming, and so far have not exactly worked. 

Football fans are promised an exciting product by Vince McMahon as the XFL tries to fill the gap between football seasons, but bells and whistles can only impress for so long.