The second incarnation of the XFL spring football league came to an abrupt end due to the COVID-19 pandemic and now it looks as if the league will not be back.
Yet another spring league now bites the dust along with last year’s Alliance of American Football (AAF), Arena Football League as well as other leagues: the first XFL, World League of American Football/NFL Europe and the United States Football League (USFL).
Maybe we can now admit to ourselves that professional spring football leagues won’t work. It has been tried now many times and each time they have all folded. As much as I love football it is also hard for me to admit that football can’t be a year-round sport.
It actually looked like the XFL was going to work with their innovative rules, television contracts and caliber of players but the pandemic brought an immediate end to the season. While established sports leagues can survive, startup leagues like the XFL was dealt a difficult blow to its existence.
The eight-team league will now add the Dallas Renegades, DC Defenders, Houston Roughnecks, New York Guardians, Los Angeles Wildcats, St. Louis Battlehawks and Tampa Bay Vipers to the graveyard of failed sports leagues and teams. It is sad. St. Louis was drawing big crowds to a city that has been abandoned by two NFL teams. Dallas and Houston had some quality teams and were going to be the two teams challenging for the league title.
It’s difficult to tell if the league would have survived its first season had it now been for the pandemic that has affected the entire world. They were soon going to be competing with Major League Baseball (MLB) for attention. I think they might have been able to do it but now we will never know.
Hopefully the XFL’s short-lived existence can live on if the NFL would consider some of the innovative rules that proved to be successful such as the kickoff where the kicker would line up on his own 30-yard line, but every one of the kicking team’s coverage players would be lined up on the opposing team’s 35-yard line. The receiving team’s blockers would line up just five yards away at their own 30-yard line. Players on both teams were only allowed to move once the returner caught the kickoff. The NFL could also consider the XFL rules on points after touchdown where the league eliminated kicking and replaced with 1, 2 or 3-point conversions. I would also suggest the NFL make field goals worth four points if they were going to implement the XFL’s points-after-touchdown rules.
The XFL is gone. The pandemic claims another victim. There will be no more football played in the spring.