By: Cory W. Berlekamp
Faster football, cheaper tickets, no kicking extra points, there are only eight teams in the entire league, and what kind of kick-off is that?
The XFL made its debut on Feb. 8, just six days after the Super Bowl wrapped up the NFL’s season, giving fans an extension of football into the spring. But the game has a few rule changes that “deliver what football fans have told us they want, a faster pace of play and more action” according to the XFL website.
There are five gameplay innovations, five timing changes, and five common-sense rules. While not going into all of them, most have to deal with seeing more action and shortening the time between action on the field. The play clock is only 25 seconds instead of the NFL’s 40-second play clock, half time is only 10 minutes long, and teams only get two one-minute timeouts each half.
The kickoff is something to see with the teams set up in the middle of the field to block each other instead of having them charge at each other from across the field. Players also can have a catch ruled in-bounds with just one foot instead of two and there is no kicking it through the uprights to earn yourself an extra point after a touchdown, teams can either go for one, two, or three extra points depending on running a play from the two, the five, or the ten-yard line.
But who is this game for?
My love of the game comes from the team I was born into rooting for, the Cleveland Browns. The team that even through constant disappointment keeps a loyal fan base. This sentiment is true for a lot of fans of teams in the NFL which makes me question how long the XFL will be around.
According to XFL.com, the league has eight teams that are split into two divisions, East and West. The teams are spread out from L.A., Seattle, New York, St. Louis, Tampa Bay, Washington D.C., and two teams in Texas. So, who is everyone else rooting for?
Their website boasts the affordability of the games at $20 a ticket, community engagement, and access for fans on game day that will get them “inside” with their new teams. So, all of us outside those cities get to watch the sport for sport’s sake? According to the XFL website, that is kind of it, football fans should be excited that they get to watch more football. It is like the smaller, late-night menu at a restaurant for sports fans.
The league goes until April with the championship game scheduled for April 26. Maybe by then, I will choose a team, but with my luck, they will be one of the four that does not even make the playoffs.