COLUMN: The XFL is here to stay… maybe

As of February 2020, the alternative, action-packed football league has returned — bringing with it a great deal of excitement and confusion.
New York Guardians tight end Jake Powell takes a hit from a Los Angeles Wildcat defender during a XFL game. | Photo courtesy of Facebook via XFL.

Sofi Zeman is a first-year journalism major at MU. She is an opinion columnist who writes about government and politics for The Maneater.

This January, WWE CEO Vince McMahon announced that he will be bringing back his league, the 2001-debuted XFL, for another attempt at standing success. The only issue is, no one really knows how to feel about this. Is the XFL here to stay?

For years, alternative major football leagues such as the Alliance of American Football and Arena Football League have struggled to succeed within the world of sports entertainment, unable to meet the standards of the National Football League. Every so often, patrons make an attempt at introducing a league with different rules and more action-packed games. They ultimately fail to stay around for long.

The XFL consists of eight major-city teams that are spread across the country in two conferences. When the league first came into the limelight, it set its focus on providing all the conflict and excitement that the regulations of the NFL could never give its viewers. For this reason, the game was all about violence and increased action. The whole point of the game was to give viewers an outlet to see what they really want in the offseason, while still having a core team to logistically root for during the NFL season.

While this end goal remains the same, the game has since been reintroduced as a sport with significantly more structure than it had the first time around. In today’s XFL, penalties are called more than they used to be, but still comparatively fewer than the NFL.

In the traditional setting, referees make decisions on the field based on what they see. In the XFL, officials monitoring the game on a screen are able to see the entirety of the field. From there, they inform referees on what decisions to make. For this reason, there is more precision in making calls on the field. This not only aids in making the game fairer, but also quickens its pace. The feeling that the audience, players and officials are all learning the rules of this new game together makes the overall experience of the game more interesting.

So far, the league has received an overall positive response. The XFL gives sports fans in cities that don’t have an NFL team the new ability to join in the game-day festivities. On Sunday, Feb. 23 the St. Louis BattleHawks won its home opener against the New York Guardians with a score of 29-9. Though it was only the team’s second game, the stadium was filled with fans clad in BattleHawk blue. On March 1, the team played the Seattle Dragons in St. Louis.

Sideline interviews have become a fan-favorite occurrence in the revival of this league. Reporters are able to talk to sideline players in the middle of the game in order to get a scope on what to expect next. This real-time effect is something that truly sets the entertainment standard of the XFL apart from the NFL.

The future of the XFL is unclear. Some view this as merely an offseason substitute to the highest level of competition. The game still has a way to go but is definitely unlike any other alternative league that’s been introduced in the past.

Edited by Bryce Kolk | bkolk@themaneater.com

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