This week, before finishing its first season, the Association of American Football suspended operations indefinitely, but not before losing tens of millions of dollars for its owners. I’m not surprised. I watched the opening night of the league (a much better word than “alliance”) and was unimpressed. The standard of play was sub-par, at best, certainly not high enough for me to continue watching or even care about the group of no-names running around on the field.
Some observers are blaming the AAF’s failure on the massive monopolistic success of the NFL, which is certainly a factor, but I think there’s something else at play here. Americans’ tastes for football has waned a bit in the last few years. In particular, the ongoing concussion problems that have caused a lot of parents to realize it’s not a good idea to let their sons and daughters play such a brutally physical game when young.
Though TV ratings for the NFL did stabilize last season, we now have a generation of kids for whom other sports will become more important. Also, as sports betting becomes legalized in more states, have you heard anyone bragging about being able to handicap AAF games over the last two months?
The implosion of the AAF doesn’t mean it’s time to ring the death knell for the game of football, but it makes me wonder whether Vince McMahon’s second attempt with his XFL is doomed to failure before it even begins next year. I won’t be surprised when more of the seats in its stadia are empty than full.