(13 Apr 2001) –They hate us? or They Hate We?…… The Sporting World has made their agenda well known. They have two words for The XFL…. GO AWAY!…… Ever open your local newspaper or listen to your local sports radio? If you are looking for coverage of your favorite XFL team, Good luck! The only attention that the XFL gets is negative attention. The games are not taken seriously and the players and coaches are ignored. The sporting world has had a field day with the XFL’s ratings. Here are two numbers for you: 1.2 and 1.1. Those are The NHL’s ratings on ABC. I don’t see too many press releases on those stats. Anybody ever hear about NFL Europe ratings? Well I’ll tell ya, NFL Europe averaged a 0.3 on Fox Sports Net last season. Where’s the press on those figures? Have the XFL’s ratings been good? No, but are they comparable to other sports franchises? Yes.
Here are some more fascinating figures…Major League Soccer.. 0.2, Golf average 2.0 this year, NBA average on NBC, 2.3, Arena Football ratings average 0.2. Outside of Tiger Woods, Nascar, NCAA Finals and the NFL. Sports ratings are in a slow period. Let’s face it, the XFL has made alot of mistakes and their ratings have been a huge dissapointment. Last week, the XFL on NBC drew a 1.5. Only 1.4 million viewers watched the broadcast. The game only ranked 14th out of the top 20 rated sports programs on television. The UPN telecast ranked 19th. The XFL made alot of mistakes and hopefully as a brand new league they can fix their mistakes.
It’s a fact. History dictates that the only football that Americans want to see is the NFL and College. Even the mighty NFL failed miserably in trying to create a spring football league in the United States. Remember the World League of American Football. It lasted two years and is now known as NFL Europe. The CFL tried to expand to American teams. That didn’t work either. Everybody knows the story about the USFL. They tried to compete with The NFL head on and they lost big time. There have been many other spring leagues that have come and gone. The Arena League has survived as a small time league with unique features. Their attendance averages about 7,000 but it’s not pro football. It’s 50 yard ball in small arenas. The XFL, quite frankly, is trying to do something that has never been done. No 2nd US Pro Football League has made it since the AFL (now AFC) in the sixties. You can thank Joe Namath for that one.
The media points out the quality of the football. Eighty-three percent of the players in the XFL have spent time with NFL teams. Seventy-eight percent of the XFL’s players are 29 and younger. The XFL players are college all stars, NFL rookies and draft picks, NFL Veterans slashed because of the cap, CFL stars, Arena League stars and NFL Europe stars. All the media has to do is research the teams. I’m not making this stuff up. The information is available. Take a look at the rosters for yourself. The coaches have the same type of resumes. Recently a poll conducted with NFL employees shows that 89 percent of them support The XFL. The NFL of course, doesn’t want any of it’s employees coming out to make good remarks about the XFL. CBS president, Les Moonves has gone on record stating that he wants to use XFL features in next season’s NFL broadcasts.
For all the talk by the media about Vince McMahon’s entertainment shows, Dick Ebersol, NBC and the cheerleaders, the media has never bothered to focus on the players, coaches or the way that the XFL treats it’s fans and viewers. How many friendly stories have you seen about the XFL? Not many and if you have the positive publicity has come from NBC employees, XFL employees and the fans that have experienced the games. The last part of that group is all that really matters, the fans. This season, the XFL gave fans free trips to follow their teams. Some fans were even allowed on the field when a team won. A selected fan was granted a 2,500 dollar bonus. Now if that’s not catering to the fans. I don’t know what is. How often are sports fans treated like garbage. Hey if your favorite NFL team goes 7 and 9 get ready for a ticket increase. The same goes for other sports franchises. Not one media outlet mentioned how the XFL treated it’s fans. How many sports teams do you know that you would give you 2,500 dollars if your team won? When Chicago fans came out in a monsoon to watch their team the XFL gave those fans free tickets for the next home game. How cool is that! That’s why XFL games average 23,000 fans per game. Not bad for a startup league with bad or no publicity.
As a football fan, I want to see The XFL make it. I think it’s a shame that only 1,800 football players get to play pro ball in the states with The NFL. The XFL gives players and coaches a chance to showcase their skills in this great country. So many great young players get overlooked when they get out of college. Some have bad luck and get injured in the NFL and they never get another chance to play pro ball. The XFL gives players and coaches, the opportunity to prove themselves. Some players will benefit from having played in The XFL. They will move on to The NFL and get another chance to make it. The same goes for the coaches. Be on the lookout for Hitmen runningbacks coach, Joe Lombardi, and yes he’s related to the great Vince himself, the man, NFL’s very championship is named after, Vince Lombardi.
As for the fans, the XFL has been a fan friendly league that is willing to listen to us. They have screwed up in alot of instances but the effort has always been there. The rules and TV features have been great. There is still alot of room for improvement in certain areas. There will be alot of structural changes in the off-season. I don’t know if this league is going to make it. History tells me that it won’t, but I hope that it does. The league is a breath of fresh air and I hope that other sports leagues take notice and use some of the features and practices that Tthe XFL does.
I have a feeling that the sporting media will continue to ignore this league in the hopes that it will all go away. These same types made fun of the ABA’s 3 point shot. These same types ragged on the AFL’s teams, uniforms and rules. It’s not a good idea to walk around life with a closed mind, I remember a certain group of critics that told Christopher Columbus that he was a fool. They told him that the earth was flat and that his mission as pointless. Thank god, Good Ol’ Chris didn’t pay attention to the critics.
Mike Mitchell – firstname.lastname@example.org