Ever since the NFL merger in the 1960s, there have been multiple unsuccessful attempts at providing another competitive brand of football to rival the NFL. They all try to have their niche and competitive advantage when in reality their competitive advantage is a disadvantage of talent. The NFL will always be the NFL and no one will ever rival them because they have the best players in the world and ultimately that is what people want to watch, the highest level of football being played on the biggest stages.
The XFL tried to put less restrictions on rules and implement tacky exceptions to allow for a more hard hitting and faster play but all it did was come off as unprofessional and disappeared shortly after its inception. The AFL had a good thing going for a minute because they were able to showcase a faster brand of finesse football on smaller stages while not trying to be the NFL but still trying to compete with but they just couldn’t compete with the level of talent.
The CFL is just weird. They have weird rugby style rules, bigger fields, and all of the “has beens” and “never was” players that provide for a brand of football that only mothers could love. There is now a Lingerie Football League, but that is neither here nor there because that is a totally different issue. There are plenty of other amateur, regional, and flag leagues that try and position themselves in a way better than the NFL but the all fall short.
The problem is that they all are trying to beat the NFL at something and that is a battle not worth fighting. I believe the phrase goes “If you can’t beat them, join them.” And that is exactly what the UFL is trying to do. They working in accordance with the NFL to appease them in every way possible to provide for them a minor league brand of football. Different regional teams would be correlated with different NFL divisions to exude an atmosphere similar to Triple-A baseball and be the breeding grounds for the NFL.
The NFL can easily track players’ progression, speak with professional and high level coaches like Jim Fassel and Denny Green, and test out the viability of possible NFL rules in the UFL. They are very competitive, there is a high-level of talent, and growing fan bases in their markets. This year the UFL decided to move the teams to smaller markets so as they didn’t have to share media time and their fan base with the NFL, another smart move.
It looks as though the UFL is here to stay with backing by a group of investors that includes Mark Cuban and Google. As long as they provide good and real football entertainment at an affordable price the fans from markets without for football will yearn for the UFL. I’ve seen a few games and can attest to their sustainability. The games are entertaining, they have big name coaches, some big name players, and plenty of potential for growth, which is exactly what they intend on doing. Growing.