Wednesday, February 23, 2005

Arena Football: the other white meat

NBC today announced a new two-year contract to continue its broadcasts of the Arena Football League.

Umm...Arena Football? Is that still on?

Seriously — do you know anyone who watches Arena Football? Can you name two teams in the Arena Football League? Can you name three cities with an Arena Football franchise?

That's what I thought.

NBC has been desperate for football since they lost their piece of the NFL pie a few years back. That desperation led to the misbegotten XFL — a collaboration between NBC and World Wrestling Entertainment, with all the intellectual gravity that implies — which lasted one season and barely survived that long. After the XFL collapsed, NBC hitched its gridiron wagon to the star of a sport so obscure few Americans even know it exists, much less are able to describe how it's played. (Think football in a hockey rink with Astroturf over the ice. Sounds thrilling, doesn't it?)

You can usually gauge the quality of a sports league by the names of its teams — the more franchises in the league with silly or downright stupid names, the worse the product on the field. Arena Football includes such stalwarts as the Grand Rapids Rampage (whose logo is a rhinoceros, like you see plenty of those in western Michigan), the Georgia Force (as in, you couldn't force me to live in Georgia), the Dallas Desperadoes (I'm thinking the halftime show features Eagles ballads), and the Philadelphia Soul (this one has some interesting marketing possibilities — instead of jerseys, dashikis with numbers on the back, and platform Nikes).

Another sure sign of sports league creative bankruptcy is teams with nearly identical names. Remember when the Canadian Football League had the Ottawa Rough Riders and the Saskatchewan Roughriders, two teams whose names were distinguishable only in print? Arena Football has the Rush and the Crush (Chicago and Colorado, respectively) and the Kats and the SaberCats (Nashville and San Jose — and what in the world is a "Kat," anyway? Do people in Tennessee really spell that poorly?).

On the other hand, you've gotta give the Las Vegas team credit for naming itself the Gladiators, when they play Arena Football. What would really be cool is having gladiator-sounding names on the backs of all the players' jerseys: Spartacus, Lattisimus Dorsi, Miles Gloriosus, and Gluteus Maximus. Even better — have the team play its home games at Caesars Palace.

2 insisted on sticking two cents in:

Anonymous Anonymous offered these pearls of wisdom...

Actually, arena football is an exciting game, and the fact that the players are in it for the love of the game, and they're not overpaid prima donnas makes it a batter spectator sport than the NFL or college football. And your asinine comment about oddball team names being an indicator of the sport being "stupid." Dead wrong. You'll also find these unique team names in minor league baseball, which is about the only kind of pro baseball worth watching. SwanShadow thinks out loud? Don't strain all three brain cells, loser. Go back to wearing your Darth Vader costume and playing dungeons and dragons, dork.

9:39 PM  
Blogger SwanShadow offered these pearls of wisdom...

Well, let's see...

1. Chess is exciting to chess fans. Curling is exciting to curling fans. Arena Football is about as exciting to me as either of the above. But to each his own.

2. I love minor league baseball, and was an ardent supporter of both of the minor league clubs that formerly played in my home town. Doesn't make minor league team nicknames not stupid.

3. You might want to check your dictionary for the definition of ad hominem argument. Assuming you own and can actually use a dictionary, that is. And I'll stack my brain cells and over $100K career winnings on Jeopardy! against yours anytime.

4. Those with the genuine courage of their convictions don't comment anonymously. Cowards, on the other hand, do.

9:55 PM  

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