What is the XFL and why is it destined to fail?

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Opinion Columnist Nicholas Schindler examines the first four weeks of the XFL’s comeback season.

NICHOLAS SCHINDLER, Opinion Columnist

We now have four weeks in the books for the XFL and there is a lot to be encouraged by.  Put the quality of play aside, the new rules and the unbelievable on-field access to players for just a minute, which are all very interesting. I’m sure many of you have one big question; what is the XFL?

Well, to start off, the XFL is a professional football league that originated in 2001 which only lasted one year and is making a comeback. The purpose of this league is to offer more football for the masses because, in America, we are suckers for some good professional football.   This can also provide the NFL a place to find players that may not have been seen as well in college and allow them to make a name for themselves and potentially get a shot to play in the NFL.  They are in no way trying to compete with the NFL; leagues like this have been tried before and at the end of the day they have not turned out to be very successful. 

Now, let’s analyze what has made the XFL successful for its first four weeks.  The promises of the XFL were faster and simpler play versus the NFL.  They have lived up to those two promises, but I think the games are not as exciting as they could be.  But first let’s talk about the positives.  With attendance, the numbers have been pretty good at all the games for these first four weeks.  Now, obviously they are not filling the second deck of stadiums, but for the most recent game in St. Louis the dome was loud and it sounded cool on TV which is encouraging. The biggest problem of all these leagues aside from money is TV ratings. The first weekend posted an impressive 3.12 million people watching, which is quite good, but now after its fourth week, the number has been cut in half to 1.61 million.  This is all before we get into the NCAA conference tournaments, March Madness, the NFL draft, NBA playoffs and even baseball.  The ratings will only continue to slowly fall with these other sports on TV.    

There are new rules: one expands the extra point to be a one, two or three-point conversion, another changes the rules for overtime and many others make small quirks to the game of football that we all grew up with. There is also an unbelievable amount of access that we get as an audience to the XFL.  Watching TV, you get to listen in on the coach talking to his quarterback making the play call and can hear the replay officials go through why they made the call live on air. We even get interviewers on the field asking players questions after they throw a touchdown, get a sack or, in Matt McGloin’s case, why he was benched.

All of these changes and new rules are really cool, don’t get me wrong, but my big question is; does greater access to the players and some quirky new rules equal success of a new league? I think not. The play is on par with upper level colleges and NFL but it isn’t anything special.  I find it hard to believe that typical NFL fans are going to get into players that they mostly don’t know and teams that they have no loyalty to or rich history of rooting for.  While I sound skeptical of this formula working, I am a football fan and I am optimistic and rooting for the XFL to succeed. But, I think it is destined to fail.