Details regarding the XFL’s schedule and financial arrangements were announced today. While teaming up with Fox and Disney is an encouraging step, it is far from a promise the second iteration will be a success. The real question still remains: Will there be stars?
In a world that is becoming more and more niche, star power has become a prerequisite for stability. Unless a league is already established and has a history – MLB, NHL, Boxing – there is no path to success absent of individual stars. And the XFL is facing a major uphill battle as a result.
If the XFL was able to bring in someone like Trevor Lawrence, they would create real intrigue from both NFL and college football fans. But it seems unlikely the XFL will be able to poach aways high profile college players before they go to the NFL. At least in the first few years. If they even have a few years of existence…
Of course, there are always former NFL players. But there is a reason that they are formers and there are only a select few that fit this criterion. Therefore, the XFL must find and build their own stars. Where this really becomes daunting, to avoid becoming the XFL 1.0 or the AAF, they also are going to need to find players that can actually play at a high level. Not only will this league not work without major stars with personalities, it also won’t work unless the quality of the games are significantly better than past failed football leagues. There are not enough people dying to alter their plans for bad football.
This league will fail if they don’t have several players that bring them both elements. And, unfortunately, the likelihood is they won’t be able to find that. Just where exactly are there players with that combination just waiting for a new football league to emerge?
McMahon knows as well as anyone alive the obstacles of creating someone that is both good and interesting. He is failing right now, by the way. Look at the WWE’s recent ratings. Now multiply that difficulty by 10, and that’s how hard it will be to find someone that is both.
Yes, today was exciting news for the XFL. No, this is not going to work or last unless there are several players that fans care for, plan around, tweet about, and simply want to watch added to the brand. This won’t end as rapidly as the first version, or how the AAF is expected to, but without star power, it may not far behind.