It’s Week 2 of the 2020 XFL reboot. Can you feel the excitement?
In fairness, the ratings for last week’s official re-launch of Vince McMahon’s vision of a professional football league (this vision doesn’t include him actually acting like Mr. McMahon) drew fairly decent ratings. As reported by Houstonchronicle.com, the league drew an average of around three million viewers per game for FOX and ESPN.
Not bad and not surprising, considering it was pretty much on par with what the AAF drew last season on its opening weekend.
Can it be sustained? That remains to be seen, but it’s likely going to be an uphill battle.
If you like it, great. As I said last week in my original article about the XFL, I might eventually come around to watching it on a weekly basis. I might get into the top players, the rules and even the quality of play. But it’s going to have to be completely organic.
I just wish people would stop trying to sell me on the idea.
Like, for example, did you know the XFL is superior to college football in terms of the quality of players?
Why is it superior? Is it simply because all of these guys—many of whom never had more than a cup of coffee with the NFL—are out of college eligibility? Does completing your collegiate career turn you into the football version of Superman, where your skills are automatically superior to everyone else’s once you visit Earth? (Kind of a bad analogy, but you get it, right? OK, if you don’t get it, college football is Earth, where all the players have mortal abilities, while professional football is the planet Krypton, where even its most average inhabitants can squash any college player.)
If you want to use that rationale, I guess I kind of get it. But even if that were true—the average XFL team could squash the average collegiate team—it wouldn’t matter.
It’s not necessarily about the players. It’s about the brands. And big-time college football is a superior brand to minor league professional football.
FBS college football is so popular because people want to see the very best that brand of football has to offer. It’s why so many stadiums in the SEC and Big Ten have a seating capacity that hovers around 100,000. That’s why the television contracts for those conferences are so lucrative.
If you notice, people aren’t going out of their way to catch college football games at the Division II, Division III and NAIA level. Why? Each offers an inferior product to Division I college football.
When people tune into see professional football at the XFL or AAF level, they know they’re getting the Division II, Division III or NAIA version of it. They know it’s a vastly inferior brand to that of the NFL.
Could an XFL team led by Landry Jones defeat the Alabama Crimson Tide or Penn State Nittany Lions? It’s impossible to say, but I know the team whose fans scream “Roll Tide!” or “We Are!” would be the more popular one on game day.
Trying to compare college football to the XFL is like trying to compare oranges to those candied orange slices. Yes, an actual orange may be better for you and certainly more nutritional, but, damn it, when you want candied orange slices, you want candied orange slices.
If the XFL really wants people to buy into its product, it has to become the super skim milk of professional football. Yes, most people want whole milk (in this case, that would be the NFL), but if you drink super skim long enough, you might discover that, while it may not have everything whole milk does, you enjoy consuming it just as much if not more.
Be the super skim milk of professional football, XFL.