What Did You Expect From the XFL?

By Mike Mitchell

The XFL is simply a sporting event in a fashion that you have never seen before. It's an experiment that's ahead of its time in broadcast sports. It's a league where team is more important then individuals. A league where success is rewarded and failures are reported. It's a league that is free and fresh. A league where sports meets reality TV and where sports meets entertainment.

Photo: Associated Press

(1 March 2001) --The XFL has become a punching bag.

Never in the history of American sports has a sporting league been more scrutinized by the media and the public. When The XFL debuted, The sports media expected a three-ring circus. The public expected the most radical sporting league in history. The expectations were high and low.

The question is did both parties get what they expected?

The sports media wants this league to fail. After watching the inaugural broadcast of The XFL on NBC, the media needed only to decide what angle they were going to take. They were going to rip it all along regardless of the outcome or performance.

If cheerleaders were featured heavily, the XFL would have been signified as smut. The cheerleaders in the XFL are no different then any other sports team cheerleaders. So the media couldn't use that angle to bash the league. Even though some still use that as an excuse.

When the play was proven to be legitimate and not scripted like a movie, television or wrestling. The sports media needed another angle. They went with "this is not the NFL" and why should anyone watch.

Believe it or not, the media has a huge role in painting the public's perception. Not to say that the public can't think for itself but the media has control to spin a story and make anyone look good or bad - whatever they want.

In this society, perception becomes reality. If the XFL is perceived by the media to be a league full of semi-pro football failures. Then the public will buy that line. Nothing could be further from the truth. Just look at the backgrounds of all the players in the league. If the media were to do their research, then they'd see the truth, but rest assured they wouldn't mention it. Instead, The public is fed their agenda motivated garbage.

The public expected the XFL to be something different then any sports league that they have ever seen. Instead, what they got really was football with alot of entertainment features.

The entertainment fans wanted to get what they get out of the WWF. The WWF is kind of an entertainment hybrid. It's a comic book, it's cartoonish, it's a live action, live theatre soap opera within sports setting. When one watches the WWF, they get athleticism, comedy, action, drama, violence and sexuality. WWF fans love the company because it's a fast paced fantasy world that's over the top but has the strong human elements of love, hate, competition and betrayal. It's really a variety show and not just staged wrestling matches.

The WWF fan wanted to see an extreme football league with the same "out of this world" features that the WWF has. The live WWF shows have a rock concert feel. The XFL does not give WWF fans what they want. The XFL has some sexuality, But the stories are not strong enough yet and in the end despite all the fan friendly features, It's just a football game.

The sports fans want to see good football and many of them expected the XFL to be entirely different then the NFL. The NFL is the king of sports franchises to a sports fan. Nothing can touch it. The sports fan watched the XFL to see if they can get into a new league. The XFL in some cases has provided football from a fresh new perspective but sports fans simply can't get into a league where they have no loyal ties to any of these players or teams. They expected harder hitting football. The XFL takes you closer and lets you hear all the hits but besides that it's really not that much more violent then NFL hits. Many of the Sports fans are familiar with some of the players because of their strong college backgrounds but the majority of them are clueless to the origins of the XFL players.

Did the sports fan and public get what they expected? No. Too much football for some not enough football for others. The XFL isn't the NFL to sports fans. The XFL isn't the WWF to wrestling fans. It's hard to please people with those expectation levels.

What is the XFL then?

The XFL is simply a sporting event in a fashion that you have never seen before. It's an experiment that's ahead of its time in broadcast sports. It's a league where team is more important then individuals. A league where success is rewarded and failures are reported. It's a league that is free and fresh. A league where sports meets reality TV and where sports meets entertainment. Has NBC and WWFE combined those elements perfectly yet? No. Will they successfully put those elements together? Time will tell.

What did you expect?