Friday, March 6, 2009

Why Are The Upstart Football Leagues So Fail-y?

Besides the classic “Infantile understanding of the operating costs of an upstart company that has to start out at a comparable size to Coca-Cola”, there is a big miscalculation that every league, every time, seems to make. 

This is strange, as the reason is obvious to me, and I am merely a lady bystander. And these dudes are not bystanders; they have millions upon millions of dollars, presumably in quarters.

I suspect it’s because the type of guy who thinks a smart business decision would be to start his own professional football league is just a really rich version of the guy who thinks a good business decision would be to open his own bar. Unfortunately, the money the first dude is throwing away isn’t “dad’s nest egg”, it’s “dad’s children’s hospital”.

sick bear

So, I’m going to break it down for you, real simple, like if you’re someone who can’t hear really well due to the height of your popped collar. Because statistically speaking, you’re probably the dude who is going to attempt this in 15 years, and the sad babies with Hodgkin’s are just going to keep showing up on the horrible infomercials that you accidentally DVR'd instead of Rock of Love Bus.

This Is Why Your Upstart Professional Football League Fails:

It’s not necessarily poor planning. David Dixon, ringmaster of the USFL, spent 15 years studying the spring football league market, past failed attempts at creating one, and potential business models; he even commissioned a study. This was a man with a plan.

This was also a man that apparently nobody loved, as no one bothered to point out that the reasons why spring leagues don’t work have almost nothing to do with fan interest.

It actually has almost everything to do with God rationing physically exceptional people like supplies on Oregon trail. 

For Your Perusal, Some Visual Aids:



This graph is not to scale, but take my word for it. "The Dregs" is neither a large group, nor an awesome nickname for a renegade linebacker who plays by nobody’s rules. It is a group roughly the size of a Girl Scout troupe.

Why Not Just Borrow the NFL Players During the Spring?

No. Contract issues aside, football players are not like other athletes.

Say you have two friends, one who is really fun, and one who is just OK. You go out with the really fun one and drink like a champ all night, and then pass out at 4. Then the just OK friend calls you at 11 AM, and says there’s a huge party and everyone is there, and you should come drink like a champ with him.

 To which you say:

"No, dude. My body simply cannot do it. I need to spend the day watching RuPaul’s Drag Race and eating Cheet-os. And I’d go out with you later, when I am recovered, but I have a standing commitment with my really fun friend."

There is a reason why a team only plays 16 regular season games a year: because each of those 16 games is like the worst bender of your life.

Why Not Just Use Draft and Free Agency Rejects and Promising Arena Football players?

Unfortunately, because you have decided to start your league after the NFL established its slightly illegal monopoly, people have become accustomed to a crazy genetic freak-man level of play. Sorry. Maybe you shouldn't have spent that year after college backpacking.

Furthermore, all the genetic football freaks have plans to...uh, wash their hair this Saturday night, and pretty much every other night you plan on asking them. Sorry. Maybe you shouldn't be so ugly.

And as much as we bitch about how Rex Grossman will be bagging groceries in 4 months (and dropping half the shit on the floor), the truth is that if you stuck him (a mostly unimpressive NFL player) in a game with draft rejects (as is the standard business model for the majority of upstart leagues), the game becomes such a consistent bloodbath that it's not really that fun to watch. Because any NFL Player, even the one I want to send to the glue factory, is able to play better then anyone who can't get in, by virtue of the fact that games do not straight up kill them.

Even worse, the upstart league bloodbath ends up being like the bloodbath executed by the 5th grade soccer team composed of players who just happened to be born right after the grade cut-off.


God dammit I hate this asshole.

And THAT is the big problem. Yes, you have an audience, congratulations on none of you ever collaborating in order to figure that out. But you have no actual product, because someone else has it all, and you have no way of getting it, because who the hell wants to go to a party at 11 AM, hungover, with a friend who is kind of boring? Which means that every time one of you tools tries to start one of these, it’s a step or two above a massive Ponzi scheme.

Also, sending someone to Arena Football League games in order to find and bring back the next Kurt Warner is a fun assignment that you might give to that guy in middle management who has been asking for more responsibility, and who you don’t really ever want to see again.

If this all seems super obvious to you, that is because it is obvious. And yet people cannot resist the urge to keep trying to make it happen.  

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