The Arena Football League is back and is set to take the field again in 2024. Arena football has existed in several different incarnations since 1987, but has been inactive since 2019. It has long been the primary alternative to the NFL in the United States. Now it seems like another “professional” soccer league looking to compete Iin an already oversaturated market.
The USFL, the XFL, and now the Arena League. Americans love football, but that doesn’t necessarily mean outside of the NFL. Regionally, Division I college football is also huge in certain areas of the country. But do we really need so many professional leagues? Probably not, and the response to these matches will prove that.
If you watched even one minute of the USFL’s return last year, you saw the stands in those huge stadiums and how empty they were. But let’s give credit where it’s due. FS1 and mostly Colin Cowherd sold the hell out of that league on their comeback. And apparently they are ready to do the same this spring.
Rebooting the XFL
On Saturday, February 18, the XFL returns to the long-awaited field. We all love Rock and everything he’s involved in, but for God’s sake, this isn’t going to work. It didn’t work the first time Vince McMahon tried it over 20 years ago. Obviously it’s great for all those young football players who don’t make the NFL and want to continue their playing careers. But if it’s not the NFL, the average fan just doesn’t care.
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That’s a problem the AFL will face, along with battling the XFL and USFL for popularity. This time they will have to bring something different to the table to stand out from the crowd. During the 90s, when arena football was at its peak, the NFL was still all about running the ball and playing great defense. The AFL brought that 7-on-7 league atmosphere long before the NFL resorted to the same type of football.
Let’s hope these leagues find a way to hang on for a while, but it’s going to be tough. The USFL has already entered the second year of its comeback tour, but who knows how much more money FOX will pour into that pit. XFL, AFL, you’re on deck. Please don’t disappoint us.