Friday, the XFL shutdown operations with no plans for a 2021 football season, and today, the Vince McMahon creation closed its doors for good as the company filed Chapter 11 bankruptcy.
Unlike the original XFL in 2001 that failed because it was basically a Wrestlemania circus on a football field with bad football play, the XFL 2.0 was a real football league with quality game play.
Did the XFL 2020 have NFL level talent? No, but that doesn’t mean the players weren’t good football players; they were just not at the NFL level. It’s a similar situation to college football.
Every college athlete isn’t a Division 1 talent, but that doesn’t mean they’re not talented. Division 2 can still be fun to watch.
The original XFL was not organized. The business model was thrown together. Sometimes the TV broadcasts were amateurish, and the rules were ridiculous. No fair catch? That’s just dangerous and stupid.
The XFL Part Two in almost every way imaginable was the complete opposite of the original. The only thing they had in common was the XFL name.
The league’s second act included experienced and successful football minds like CEO Oliver Luck, former Oklahoma Sooners coach Bob Stoops and great TV coverage on ESPN/ABC and Fox Sports.
The new rules made the game fun and not wrestling on a football field. This was actual football with quality players and a potentially successful business model.
Then, COVID-19 hit the startup league and hit it hard as the XFL had to cancel the rest of its season like other major sporting leagues.
When you are a new league, you don’t have deep pockets to help sustain you during an economic storm like the NFL or NBA does. With the future uncertain as to when games can resume, the XFL really had no choice but to close because no games meant no revenue.
Now the XFL will join previous leagues, including the USFL, the World Football League, XFL 1.0 and 2019’s The Alliance of American Football league as spring leagues that could not find a way to keep scoring.
While the original XFL failed and rightly so because of all the reasons mentioned above, you cannot blame the closing of the current XFL completely on bad business decisions.
Coronavirus came out of nowhere, and there was no way they could’ve planned for something like a pandemic. Like many businesses, COVID-19 killed it.
At its peak, the league averaged around 20,000 fans per game, and while the ratings continued to decline each week, the games averaged 1-1.5 million viewers on ABC and Fox.
The XFL was the best-funded spring football league attempt to date. While there is no doubt coronavirus played a significant part in its closing, future investors that consider investing in a spring football league startup may think twice about providing funding after the XFL’s failure, even with COVID-19 playing a role.
If the XFL, a league as well funded as it was by the large pockets of McMahon can’t get it to last, what chance does any else have?
We have seen the last attempt at a spring football league for at least a decade or maybe forever.
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