20 October 2000
Did the XFL lie to it's fans?
After all, there are many fans who have stepped forward to support the Chicago Enforcers and even some who bought season tickets simply because Dick Butkus was going to be on the sidelines. Most XFL fans bought into the whole concept of Dick Butkus as a Head Coach. Were they lied to?
As fans learned yesterday, Butkus would not be coaching the Enforcers after all. He has stepped "up" into a job as the Director of Football Competition. Meanwhile a far more experienced coach, Ron Meyer, has taken his place at the Chicago sideline.
It was reported that Butkus was sullen during the press conference. Is this the attitude of somebody that just got promoted? It was also reported that this was a better fate for Butkus, rather than firing him in mid-season, which would be a bigger blow to fans. Is the league trying to tell us that it was just not working out? Did they say that they made a mistake and that they are going to correct things? No, they told us that Butkus was getting a promotion.
Simply stated, the XFL did not lie to it's fans. The league never made any promises that Butkus would be "coach for life". Anybody who knows sports can tell you that coaches come and go like the wind. However, the league has come across as liars to some.
This is mainly because the XFL markets everything so hard-core. When they have marketed their league, the sound bites and the rhetoric have been unyielding. When Butkus was hired, the press release went on at length to practically proclaim him "king", the Head Coach of the Chicago Enforcers.
At the time it was exciting and fun, the fans ate it up. Looking back now, it now looks more like a steaming load of manure.
The marketing gurus at the league would have you know that this is the way things are done. It is their responsibility to take advantage of every opportunity to build up some PR for this new league. Fans and proponents of the XFL would have to agree with them. The XFL has a huge mountain to climb when it comes to gaining respect, every avenue to build hype should be explored.
Marketing. This is why the league sported an article called "Butkus Proves It" since July 22nd on the X-Zone, at the XFL web site at http://www.xfl.com,. It was an article about Dick Butkus, saying how he is going to be a such a hard-nose, smashmouth coach, just like Chicago is accustomed to... yada yada yada.
Marketing. Also the reason that the league hired a cessna to buzz soldier field during a Bears game with a banner declaring "Butkus is Back". This was a good stunt, and worthy of the Butkus the fans came to know - Head Coach of the Enforcers.
Then, this week, Head Coach Butkus was no more. The much celebrated article, "Butkus Proves It", was removed from the official web site on the day of his "promotion". Butkus was given a new job: enforcing the rules - because he is such a good enforcer, since his playing days with the Bears, yada, yada, yada.....
Give us a break.
The XFL is going to make mistakes. It is only natural to expect some mistakes when you think of the magnitude of what they are attempting. The big questions is why don't they admit to their mistakes?
Instead they state that they gave Butkus a "promotion".
It's unfortunate, with this type of guerilla marketing the casualties have been the fans. Butkus proves it.