Iíve gone on the
record as stating that that XFL was a bad idea, a bad use of the
money gained from their IPO, and an eventual profit drain that
will cause shareholders to force WWFE to drop the league.
After one week, Iím a little more open-minded.
Iím not quite converted.
But Iím there enough to come up with three reasons why
I think the XFL will end up a long-term (anything longer than
three seasons) success. Of
course, since Iím not fully on the bandwagon, Iíll balance
it out with three reasons why it wonít work.
YUP, THIS IS THE
GREATEST DAMN THING EVER
Theyíve delivered what they promised
They said theyíd have
new rules, designed to make the game more hard-hitting.
They said thereíd be hot cheerleaders in skimpy
outfits. They said
thereíd be a new television presentation, with all-access
coverage that never has been shown before.
On all of those points, the XFL has delivered. With a few weeks worth of execution to iron the bugs out, I
think the production will go smoothly.
The camera angles are strange to an experienced football
fanís eye, but again, with some time for the producers to see
what works and what doesnít, itíll be just fine.
The on-field camera is a stroke of genius.
Expectations arenít incredibly high
NBC isnít looking for
their own NFL, something to dominate the sports world and take
America by storm. Vince
McMahon isnít looking to take over a new industry, at least
not that heíll admit. Itís
just something to entertain on Saturday nights and Sunday
afternoons, while there isnít any other football and
basketball and hockey are in second-half lulls before the
Costs are controlled
This is the big point
from my perspective, the deal I didnít know that was going to
separate the XFLís operation from other sports leagues that
have started up over the last thirty years.
Nobody got paid from the time they signed their contracts
until last Saturday. It
may be incredibly unfair when compared to guaranteed salaries in
other sports, but it fits right in line with the old ďyou
donít work, you donít get paidĒ mentality of professional
wrestling. The most
anyone can make at this is approximately $100,000, and thatís
the quarterback for the championship team.
Every other league (from the old WFL to the current Major
League Soccer) have fallen into the same trap, where in order to
draw attention to themselves, they sign name-brand players for
money that puts them way over budget.
If they can draw 20,000 fans a game at $25/ticket,
thatís half a million per game, which more than covers the
costs of all personnel for both teams.
GET YOUR SOUVENIRS NOW,
CAUSE THE FAT LADYíS WARMING UP
They canít play
I mean, they really
canít play. Some games were close, some werenít, but none of them had
anyone who would make a football fan want to tune in.
What the NBA has sold so well in the David Stern era is the athletic ability of the performers.
Every sport needs to sell the fact that their audience
can tune in to see great athletes doing things nobody else can
do. The quality of
play in the XFL will most likely improve as the season goes on,
but these will always be players who have not only been rejected
by the NFL, but also like the World League and most likely Arena
Football as well (both of whom pay better than the XFL).
I don't go out of my way to watch minor-league baseball
and high-school basketball, and I wonít do it for bad
They canít entertain
Ah, but you say, ďZog,
you dope, Vince McMahon has never sold athletic competition.
He sells entertainment.Ē
So letís look at the XFL players as entertainers.
When the Las Vegas Outlaws introduced themselves on the
field, most of them stumbled through that five seconds of camera
time. They had an
extended promo for Ryan
Clement, complete with double-entendre talking cheerleader
babe, and he staggered through it.
Nicknames on the backs of jerseys belong in fraternity
intramural leagues. The idea of trash talk may appeal to some, but thereís only
been a handful of athletes in the history of competition who
were regularly entertaining with it.
None of those men are currently on XFL rosters, nor will
be in the near future. Sideline
and locker room mics picked up coaches and players at their
sports clichťd or jargon-packed worst.
If this is sports entertainment, what weíve got is a
promotion filled with guys who talk like Hardcore Holly.
Theyíre a square peg in a round hole
herein lies my initial beef.
They arenít good enough at competition to be pure
sport, not good enough at the other stuff to be sports
The XFL is just in the middle enough to alienate large
sections of both of their target audiences.
I donít believe thereís a big crossover between
ďwatch anythingĒ football fans and wrestling fans.
If there was, thereíd be bigger swings in the Monday
Night ratings depending on what game was on and what PPV we were
Without a solid core audience, all thatís left is a
group of folks tuning in for the hype.
And as good as Vince McMahon is at hype, that wonít
carry the kind of ratings and attendance expected from the XFL
on a long-term basis.