FXFL Football…

If at first you don’t succeed… After the break…

FXFL Football…

Fans of American Football are a peculiar sort: They enjoy college football, they absolutely love professional football (The “National Football League”) and nothing else.

Sure, they’ll watch football played by high school students (the academic level below college, for those who are not-in-the-know) if it’s absurdly local. There’s Arena Football which is still American Football at it’s heart but, because of the much smaller playing field, is significantly different enough to be it’s own separate entity (sort of like the difference between volleyball and beach volleyball). There’s the Canadian Football League which is American football but played in Canada and is generally overshadowed by college football because they’re sort of played at the same time of year. There’s even a Women’s American Football League (and, yes, that means that the women are the players on the field) but it’s a teeny-tiny portion of the overall American Football spectrum and even diehard NFL fans would be hard-pressed to know if there was a women’s team playing near their home city.

With the unending appetite for football, you would think that “off-season” football or merely more football played at a level between collegiate and professional would prove adequately popular to remain financially solvent. You would think… But you would be thinking wrong… Very wrong.

The sport of American Football has a graveyard filled to the brim with so-called “semi-professional” leagues that have come and gone throughout the years: The United States Football League, the World Football League, the United Football League and the XFL (which, supposedly, to this day, no one quite knows what the “X” stood for but, apparently, didn’t stand for “Extreme” as everyone thought).

And now there’s another American football league trying it’s luck: The Fall Experimental Football League (or FXFL).

As with a lot of people, I have a soft spot for “the underdog,” for the late arrival to the industry. I have no financial interest in American football: I don’t bet on the games monetarily, I don’t play “fantasy football” (Think “Dungeons & Dragons but with football player statistics”), I have no financial interest in any team or television channel that broadcasts the games. What I do appreciate is an alternative in an industry that has none. College football is not an alternative to the National Football League; It is sort of like the Double- or Triple-A affiliates of the National Football League. The FXFL is an alternative to the NFL as was the XFL, the USFL and the UFL. They may not have been better or as good as the NFL but at least they were more of what football fans tended to like, which was “more football.”

The NFL has not had very good publicity as of late with the public that they inevitably serve. A number of players have been charged with various crimes, from child abuse to premeditated murder. The NFL has not necessarily been nimble or diplomatic when dealing with all of it’s crisis.

Perhaps the best thing for the NFL is the FXFL. As a computer executive once stated, the best thing to ever happen to Microsoft was to keep Apple alive at a time when it was not certain that Apple would remain solvent. Microsoft’s surprise move had many practical applications, including demonstrating that it wasn’t the cutthroat monopolizer that it at one time was (and, in many parts of the computer industry, still is). However, one aspect of the move was that it diverted attention away from Microsoft, giving Microsoft a small but certain level of privacy that it would never be capable of having had it remained the all-powerful monopoly that it had become.

The NFL may seem as though it might be “too big to fail” but it needs to remember that, at one time, Microsoft was just as unstoppable. It’s operating system was everywhere; It’s web browser reigned supreme; It’s office software was second-to-none. While Microsoft is nowhere near close to shuttering it’s doors, it is also nowhere near the unstoppable juggernaut that it once was. Apple became more nimble, offering user-friendly devices through which it could dominate the music, telephone and tablet industries. A search engine’s web browser is now inching closer to supplanting Microsoft’s web browser. Microsoft can lay claim to being a legitimate part of the video game console market but has stumbled in several other markets.

The NFL and it’s fans may not like competition but it should learn it’s lesson from Microsoft: Sometimes, it’s better to have an alternative hanging around than to not have an alternative at all. After all, it was baseball that was once America’s sport.

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