Given that this is the most boring time of the sports year with the MLB as the only professional sport being played, one has to wonder what could be done to improve this problem. How could this time of the year, the calm before the wonderful storm known as football season arrives, become more interesting?
Piece of cake! More emphasis and expansion to Arena Football, which is already played during the summer. Now my colleague, Johnny Rambos has the right idea in one of his latest articles by asking why Slamball isn’t a bigger thing and I’ll be damned if I’m told the same question can’t be asked about Arena Football.
Firstly, this is America, and Americans love football! Also, given that the game takes place in an arena which is much more compact than a regular football stadium (field length is 50 yards as opposed to 100) the gameplay looks and feels different enough as to not come off as an NFL knockoff. I mean quite frankly, it’s a combination of classic gridiron football and hockey (another great sport).
It’s not new, either. The Arena Football League formed thirty-one years ago in 1987. They’ve had fluctuating popularity with as many as 19 teams in the league just a decade ago. Unfortunately, there are only a dismal 4 teams, and on the top of that, those teams (Albany Empire, Baltimore Brigade, Philadelphia Soul, Washington Valor) are all on the East Coast.
Here’s the question: Is expansion possible, is it worth it and can excitement form around the resurgence of a dying league?
As many may know, back in January, entertainment mastermind Vince McMahon announced that the XFL will be making its triumphant return in 2020. So if he really wants the league to be successful and stand out (and perhaps last more than one season) he should go about combining it with the Arena Football League.
As history will show, other outdoor professional football leagues aside from the NFL don’t exactly go well or last very long. Why compete with the NFL? That’s like trying to take on Batman after you’ve taken something he covets; you simply just don’t win.
But indoor football played in a hockey arena makes for a smaller field and different gameplay as well as being played during the summer, combine that with Vince McMahon’s sense for entertainment. Now that’s something that could stand out!