Friday, September 29, 2006

More Football Fun

What's Playing in my Head: "Radar Love", by Golden Earring

Quote of the Day:My girlfiend said to me in bed last night, 'You're a pervert!' I said, 'that's a big word for a girl of nine'." - Emo Phillips

Two more football notes before I shut up about it (at least until the Skins get waxed tomorrow):

First, there is actually a new football league starting up, a fact that I re-discovered last night thanks to Wikipedia. Unfortunately, it's a league that's setting itself up for complete failure because: a) it's a spring league, b) it's taking almost exclusively recently-graduated college players as opposed to established names, c) it's got a lousy business plan with no TV contract, and d) it's a self-admitted minor league.

I'm talking about the All American Football League, which was "founded" in July. The gimmick (spring football always seems to have a gimmick) is "Okay, people at colleges love football right? Well, lets use those college stadiums in the spring, with college players, and have a real, honest professional football league! Gee, won't that be swell?"

The problems with this concept are almost too many to go into. But I'll try.

First, the only time spring football has ever worked is in the Arena Football League, which is so radically different from actual football that it's not even the same sport. Plus, arena football took about 10-15 years to succeed, and then only barely.

Second, this league is relying on alumni from colleges to support these new teams in the spring. Basically what this means is that they expect college football fans (and donors) to buy all the tickets. Minor problem here: college football fans buy tickets and donate money based on the fact that they have a strong allegiance to the school they're paying to buy tickets for. Mostly because they're either alumni who love their school, or because they're fans of the long, storied traditions and histories at their school. Either way, a new professional league doesn't have that same sort of allegiance - no matter how much they try to associate themselves with said schools. (They've somehow got the University of Tennessee, Purdue and NC State on board with this screwball plan)

Third, this league's agreement, in getting colleges to agree to rent their stadiums, is to give all the concession and parking money straight to the schools. Big mistake. Fact is, without a major TV deal and a high profile that will bring major advertisers to the plate, all the revenue this league is going to get will come from game day ops - ticket sales, parking and concessions. Cut two out of those three out, and you've got only one major revenue source. And what happens if people don't actually, you know, come to the games?

Thank you very much.

Fourth, by admitting that it's a minor league, the AAFL's organizers have automatically limited the league's reach and potential for growth. People don't want to go see minor league sports, by and large, unless: a) there's not a lot of entertainment in their town or b) tickets are dirt cheap. If there's a high-profile alternative (ie, college sports, professional sports), they'll take it over minor league sports 99% of the time.

So what does that mean? First, they'll have trouble getting a decent TV contract. Networks don't generally televise minor league sports. Second, they'll have to keep ticket prices cheap, so they won't make a lot of money - and as a result, they won't get the caliber of players they'll need to succeed. Third, they're competing with the NFL in a way, since there is already a league that serves the NFL's player-development needs: NFL Europe. On top of that, there's the CFL (which the NFL works with) and Arena Football, to help as sources of talent. And that completely ignores that 100+ Division I-A college programs that pump talent into the NFL each year.

Point is, this whole thing is doomed to fail (which is a shame, because I really like the name AAFL - it sounds cool and 1940's-retro. Someone with imagination could really use that name to their advantage with a new league). It reminds me of a combination of the pathetic Spring Football League
and the equally-pathetic Regional Football League, both of which had bad business plans, no exposure, no TV deal, and unsurprisingly died fast, yet painful deaths. Same thing here.


Second point: the Arizona Cardinals's stadium has a new name. The unimaginatively-named (yet appropriate) Cardinal Stadium has been renamed
"University of Phoenix Stadium". This, as is normal for the internet, has started up a shitstorm of whining from self-styled traditionalists, because there isn't actually a physical place known as the University of Phoenix (it's a virtual, online education institution), and the stadium's actually located in Glendale, a suburb of Phoenix, AZ.

Personally, I don't think it's all that bad. Look, they could have had their stadium named something awful like VeriziChoice Field, or Paradigmatics Execucorps Stadium, or the Equibarq Centre. At least with UoP Stadium, you can pretend that the Cardinals play at a stadum at the University of Phoenix, in Phoenix, Arizona. (Which is exactly what I plan on doing, with my University of Phoenix fantasy college football team)

Of course, the irony of the Cardinals finally managing to leave a college stadium to play at - a college stadium - doesn't escape me...


At October 02, 2006 9:16 AM, Anonymous Mediocre Fred said...

I agree that the AAFL is D-U-M dumb in pretty much every way possible. On the other hand, I'm also wondering the window for second major sports leagues has shut. If I have time, I'll post about this to my blog this week.

At October 16, 2006 5:19 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

The AAFL intrigues me and is anything but dumb. Why do people like you feel a need to squash someone's efforts to bring more football to the world? A spring league, in regional enclaves where there are only two sports, football and spring football, that strives to bring a form of minor league football to a sport that has no "minor" league such as MLB and the NBA has... etc. If you havnen't noticed, football has become incredibly popular, especially college football in certain areas. Numerous stadiums now boast capacities of well over 100,000, and some could build 150,000 stadiums and still sell out at premium dollars. Whole generations of children are growing up now never able to attend a live NFL nor college game. This league can allow a regular family of four to attend a game for under a hundred bucks. I say give it a chance and let it work. Attend some games.


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