Joe PorterWednesday, May 3, 2023
There is no denying that football is a very popular sport in America. In fact, it's the most watched sport in the country. The NFL dominates and has been dominating the field of professional football for years, but just last year, another possible powerful football league emerged. The XFL has exploded onto the scene with the league already having a large television deal with ESPN and an Under Armour sponsorship. However, the XFL is still just considered a ‘minor’ football league. The XFL has arguably become the most famous minor football league in the country, with it being constantly on television thanks to the television deal laid out above. Still the NFL, being the only football league not listed as ‘minor,’ is more than just on television. You can barely walk down the street without seeing someone wearing their favorite NFL player’s jersey. It will probably be a long time, or maybe never, before the XFL reaches the same level of popularity as the NFL. But I still think the XFL is an important addition to our sports culture, and it is important to understand what it is and how it differs from the NFL.
The XFL was originally created in 2001 by Vince McMahon (World Wrestling Entertainment's Executive Chairman) because he thought that he could make football better than the NFL. He was wrong; the original XFL ended up being a huge disappointment, lasting one season and losing $70 million. However, it was announced in 2018 that McMahon was going to bring back a revamped version of the XFL. McMahon was planning on being the owner of the XFL as it tried a second time to be a successful football league, but the XFL was forced to file for bankruptcy in 2020 and McMahon sold the league to an investor group led by Dwayne Johnson, Dany Garcia, and RedBird Capital Partners. The new owners created the current format for the XFL that we see on television today. The XFL is an eight-team football league with teams spread around the US in mid-sized to large cities. On average, XFL players make 60,000 dollars total throughout training camp, the regular season, and playoffs. Something that the XFL has going for them is the branding powerhouse Dwayne Johnson. He regularly posts about the league on his Instragram account, which has over 300 million followers, and he got the XFL to partner with Under Armour in a multi-year deal. So, the XFL has a pretty good foundation built around it to continue to build up its brand.
The NFL is the opposite of a newcomer to the pro football scene, and it has turned into an international superpower. The NFL was created in 1920, but the league that we know today was created in 1970 when the American Football League and the National Football League merged. With a net worth of $91 billion, the NFL is far ahead of the competition and has the type of funds where the league can better pay their players. The average salary of an NFL player is $2.7 million, which is about $2.64 million more than an XFL player makes. The NFL has signed new television rights agreements with Amazon, CBS, ESPN/ABC, Fox, and NBC. The deal will come into play during the 2023 season and will end in 2033. The deal is supposedly worth over 100 billion dollars. Television rights deals are only one way that the NFL makes money. The league and the individual teams also make money through sponsorships, ticket sales, parking, and concessions. One of the big differences between the XFL and the NFL is that the latter is not owned by a single investor group but is owned by a group of team owners. This means that the NFL has more business resources and opportunities than a league owned by a single entity.
The truth of the matter is that the NFL is the preeminent football league in America because it has the money to pay the best players in the world, and then people in turn pay the NFL to watch the high-quality players. They have an effective system of making money that has been cultivated over several decades. The XFL has only been around for around two seasons total, if you add all the total games that have been played. Many people do not know the XFL teams or players, but it is safe to say that most people can name at least one NFL team or player. The XFL is doing well considering this is their first season in over 20 years, and the league has completely rebranded the industry. However, the NFL looks to be in firm control of the American football industry and much of the money to be made in sports in this country. The Super Bowl earlier this year was viewed by 113 million people -- that's just one game. Each NFL team plays 17 games, while XFL teams play only 10. This means that the NFL has many more chances to have money coming in, and more people are coming to the NFL games. The XFL is a good addition to our country’s sports culture, but it is highly unlikely that it has the financial means or popularity to overtake the NFL. And that's okay. I'll take them both.
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