Now it's official: rumors surrounding sports mogul Vince McMahon's financial maneuvers last December have proved true. McMahon plans to bring back a new, improved version of the XFL.
So say the pundits, but McMahon's vision is a lot bigger: he plans to take down the NFL itself---and in 2020, the NFL's Centennial Year.
McMahon says that he's learned from his mistakes after the XFL's earlier incarnation collapsed after one season and suffered a $70 million loss in 2001. Indeed, his new business model looks impressive. The XFL management will have central organizational office---thus cutting out a big part of the NFL's problem of owner incompetence. The new league will also shake off the parasitic leeches in pro football like the NFL Players Union and political lobbyists. McMahon's goal is to make football "fast, fun, and family-friendly."
These are admirable goals. Eight cities (as of now) will host XFL teams in 2020, although McMahon has declined to name which ones. He's definitely committed to washing out the stifling political correctness and cracking down on player misbehavior that define modern pro and college football.
The question of McMahon's success depends largely on which group of pundits is right. All agree that football is losing popularity: barring a record-setting Super Bowl, 2017 is poised to be the nadir of a sustained NFL decline for the past five straight years. Some pundits believe that over-saturated markets and social shifts are responsible for the NFL's failure-rate. If this scenario is true, the XFL could be in for a real struggle.
Others---with whom we admittedly agree---believe that the NFL has simply alienated its base. A sport designed by and for men that alienates men is doomed to failure. Fans are simply sick of the drugs, thuggery, controversies, and political correctness that goes radically against male affection for fair play and sportsmanship.
Thus, McMahon is taking a gamble that the second interpretation is correct. I tend to think that he's right. McMahon is a sports promoter, but he's also a shrewd businessman. McMahon made a fortune by selling the public what the public wants; thus he no doubt has a sense of the public mood toward football. The XFL is liable to confound the 'experts' who can't understand why fans dislike paying high prices to watch players disrespect them.
So, we'll be following the fortunes of the XFL with anticipation. Football itself isn't the problem: its current personnel is. It's not overly difficult to produce a better product than today's NFL.