XFL Xpires After Pandemic Shortened Season

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.

Flashback Friday: Sunshine Hockey League

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West Palm Beach Blaze Dominated The Sunshine Hockey League

Professional ice hockey leagues have had some growing pains in the South as it has expanded over the years.  Many leagues have come and gone but one interesting league was created in the 1990s which was based in the Sunshine State from 1992-1995.  Most leagues hoped they would tap into the “snowbirds” that have moved from Northern States to Florida.  The Sunshine Hockey League was one of those which featured a Florida-based league.

The league began play in 1992 with five teams (West Palm Beach Blaze, Jacksonville Bullets, Daytona Beach, Lakeland Ice Warriors and St. Petersburg Renegades).   The St. Petersburg team folded before the season ended so the remaining four teams all qualified for the Sunshine Cup playoffs.    West Palm Beach swept Jacksonville 3-0 to win the cup.

The West Palm Beach Blaze were the dominant team during the league’s existence as they won all of the Sunshine Cup Championships.   In fact, they never lost a game in the cup final as they swept Jacksonville again in both finals.  The Blaze were 132-35-8 during the league’s three seasons.

In the final season of the league, they added the Fresno Falcons located in Fresno, California.  Fresno played a limited schedule of 16 games and was not included in postseason play.

Kelly Dyer was one of five female hockey players to ever play professional hockey in North America.  She played for the Blaze from 1993-1995.  She played in 15 games and was 4-0 with a 6.75 Goals Against Average.

The league hovered around an average attendance of 1700 per game which was pretty good for a low-minor league organization.  The Blaze lead the league in attendance with an average of 2000 per game.

Jacksonville’s Joe Musa led the league with 45 and 40 goals in the 1993-94 and 1994-95 seasons.

The Sunshine Hockey League evolved into the Southern Hockey League in 1995 as Lakeland, Daytona Beach, West Palm Beach and Jacksonville joined Winston-Salem, North Carolina and Huntsville, Alabama in the new league.

1992-93 Season

  1. West Palm Beach Blaze (38-6-1)
  2. Jacksonville Bullets (22-23-2)
  3. Daytona Beach Sun Devils (18-25-5)
  4. Lakeland Ice Warriors (18-30-4)
  5. St. Petersburg Renegades (10-6-4)
    • Playoffs:  West Palm Beach defeated Lakeland 2-1, Jacksonville defeated Daytona Beach 2-0, West Palm Beach defeated Jacksonville 3-0.

1993-94 Season

  1. West Palm Beach Blaze (37-14-3)
  2. Jacksonville Bullets (32-21-1)
  3. Lakeland Ice Warriors (23-28-3)
  4. Daytona Beach Sun Devils (16-34-3)
    • Playoffs:  West Palm Beach defeated Daytona Beach 2-0, Jacksonville defeated Lakeland 2-0, West Palm Beach defeated Jacksonville 3-0.

1994-95 Season

  1. West Palm Beach (38-15-4)
  2. Jacksonville Bullets (33-23-1)
  3. Daytona Beach Sun Devils (23-32-1)
  4. Lakeland Ice Warriors (18-37-1)
  5. Fresno Falcons (9-7-0)
    • Playoffs:  West Palm Beach defeated Daytona Beach 2-0, Jacksonville defeated Lakeland 1-0, West Palm Beach defeated Jacksonville 3-0.