Since Vince McMahon announced that an XFL return was coming, I’m invested in seeing it play out. This will never be the NFL, nor should it try to be. If they did try, it would fail miserably.
Opening weekend delivered in a big way and while it is still too early to say, maybe this will be an alternative league that withstands the test of time. Before diving into all the things I love about the league thus far, let’s look at what the market says.
Ticket sales are fantastic, at least for now. Darren Rovell tweeted that the XFL ticket sales, before a single down was even played, surpassed the ticket sales AAF season total. I also saw that tickets were selling for roughly $130. That is a damn good margin. All four games had more than 17,000 fans in attendance. The interest is obviously there.
In addition to ticket sales, the first game of opening weekend peaked at 4 million viewers and carried an average viewership of 3.3 million. XFL was also trending on Twitter for two days.
I, for one, hope it becomes a mainstay in American sports. This is a relatively slow time for sports because the NFL ends. I don’t give a shit about baseball starting up. NBA doesn’t heat up until after the all-star break. So I was happy to see the amount of people tuning in. Of course the talent level won’t be the same as the NFL, but that doesn’t carry much weight if they do everything else right. They appear to be doing plenty right…
Special Teams Are Vital
I absolutely love the special teams rules. When I saw them a few weeks back, I was on board 1000 percent. Seeing it in action was great. I love that there is such an emphasis on obtaining great field position and you have to let your special teams play. Teams are penalized for kicking out the back of the endzone, which is a great way to make your league standout.
Mid Game Interviews
Raw emotion from coaches and players will always deliver. We literally heard a player drop an F bomb during an interview. What’s not to love?!? Above all else, having mid game interviews bridges the gap from professional to backyard sports. You can see and hear what these dudes are thinking in the height of the adrenaline and emotion.
This is easily my favorite part of the XFL and the NFL should absolutely take a page out their playbook here. When there is a close play that is under review, you get to hear the dialogue between the on-field official and the official in the booth as that person reviews the play. In a social media age, officials are so heavily scrutinized. Why not let the fans in on their world?
The game balls are awesome. I love that they are customized to each team. If you’re wondering if they sell them, answer yes. They are on the XFL site retailing for $125. If anyone wants to get me a Renegade ball, please do.
One of the cool moments was after a turnover, the defense kept the opposing teams ball to basically say “you’re not getting this back.” That is another element of fun that can be added. Every time there is a turnover, collect a new teams ball and use that as your glorified trophy case for turnovers.
I did see some people criticize and question having the OCs on TV calling plays. I understand why.
However, I don’t think it becomes that big of a deal or makes it any easier for opposing teams to stop the offenses. No telling how big these damn playbooks are plus I am sure you can change one word of the play call to signify something else week to week. It is just another element of transparency that the XFL is bringing to their presentation.
Sports betting is a major industry that even people who don’t gamble directly with Vegas are intrigued by, like myself. I use prop bets and game lines to bet one on one with my friends.
It’s cool to see a league embracing gambling like the XFL. As part of their score box, they have the over/under and spread listed there along with the score, down, distance and clock. So when a team is favored by 9.5 and getting smoked, you can see that.
It’s also a subtle reminder to those who do gamble, you’re either getting screwed or you know that money is coming.
I have been playing flag football since college. It is one of my favorite sports to play. I love that the XFL pulled from the flag playbook and implemented a one-point, two-point and three-point conversion.
No teams went for three in week one. However, there was a healthy mix of one and two point conversion attempts. Across the league, teams were 4 for 11 (36.4%) on one point conversions and 3 for 8 (37.5%) on two point conversions.
Overall Grade on the XFL
So far so good. I would give an A+ for opening weekend. I love the XFL’s creative elements to help it stand out in a market that hasn’t existed long term for more than 50 years. That is the market of alternative football. The beauty is that the league is not competing against the NFL nor should it. Keep doing the things to separate yourself.