Penalty Shouts: XFL

This is Penalty Shouts, The Tartan’s sports column inspired by the The New Yorker’s column Daily Shouts. This satire-fueled column will focus on anything and everything funny in the sports world that is deserving of our comedic attention.

The XFL kicked off this week, and most football fans were unmoved. Traditional fans were confused by the new rules, like the requirement during kickoffs that everyone except the kicker and returner stand five yards apart until the ball is caught. The casual fans didn’t care for subpar professional football right after the NFL season. And the questionable gains left would-be pundits like myself wondering why it exists in the first place.

Billionaires like WWE CEO and XFL owner Vince McMahon are entitled to spend their fortunes however they want, I guess. But still, why try another American football league when the NFL is doing fine? There is a long list of failed major leagues: The United States Football League (1983-1985), the original XFL (2001), the United Football League (2009-2012), and, just last year, the Alliance of American Football (AAF) failed after only a few weeks of play. Even after a successful first week, I wouldn’t say the XFL is safe yet. The AAF similarly had good ratings but then failed before the season ended.

This is why I propose that, if they’re going to have the over/under of each game on the broadcasts, they should put the over/under on the number of weeks the XFL is expected to survive. At least the XFL is trying to shorten the games, so that I don’t have to watch them.

Seriously, though, I would like the XFL to be a more unique departure from the NFL. Maybe it could be more like wrestling. Just throw in The Rock and make it into a movie. I’d watch that. Add John Cena, and it’s like half of a Fast and Furious movie. It’s a shame they didn’t allow players to choose the name on their jerseys as in the original XFL. I still think “He Hate Me” should have a spot in the Football Hall of Fame.

There is something to be said for the XFL. Maybe removing kickoffs where players collide head-on at full speed, letting a team have their offense and defense each play in overtime, and reducing the time between plays are all good ideas. They seem like they could really bring in a new audience who are alienated by the stubborn rules of the NFL as well as its handling of the CTE scandal. And the ball has an “X” on it!

However, according to bookmakers, these ideas are only expected to help the XFL survive seven weeks of its season.