The View From Wisconsin
Just a random set of rants from a Sports Fan from Wisconsin.
Tuesday, March 31, 2009
THE SEVEN COMMANDMENTS OF STARTING
A NEW PROFESSIONAL FOOTBALL LEAGUE
A NEW PROFESSIONAL FOOTBALL LEAGUE
These are free of charge for the people trying to go where the XFL, WLAF, WFL and others failed so miserably:
1. THOU SHALT NOT COMPETE DIRECTLY WITH THE NATIONAL FOOTBALL LEAGUE.
- From the start, you are either maneuvering to become a "feeder" league to the NFL, or to eventually have your teams absorbed into the NFL via merger. The latter is not a sustainable business model; the former seeks a happy coexistence between the two leagues.
- The best way to not compete with the NFL is to have your league play during the NFL's off season; the second best way is to play your games on a different night than the NFL's games (Friday night, for example).
- You should NEVER put your championship game up directly against an NFL game or event (like the draft).
- You need a national TV contract (over-the-air or cable TV channels) to gain some measure of exposure for your league, as well as an additional source of league-wide revenues.
- You also need nationwide sponsorships to help cut your losses in the early stages of your league's existence. (See rule 7.) Official uniform, equipment, footwear, ball suppliers are mandatory.
- Don't say you're on the same level as the NFL. NO professional league is on that level, at least not in North America.
- Don't try to be all glam-and-glitz, or emphasize something that you cannot realistically provide. (See the XFL and "smash-mouth football".)
- Don't try to be a truly professional league if your game officials are primarily amateur. If you want your league to be the best, pay your officials accordingly and train them to be the best.
- Putting teams in existing NFL cities is suicide, especially with the exclusive nature of existing football facilities in those cities.
- Don't be over-regionalized in your league, or else people will consider your league as "that southern-based league".
- Don't put teams in cities that are completely sold out to their college football squads (Oklahoma, Boise State, Tennessee, etc.).
- Going from four teams to 10 in one year is suicide. Once you get a good number – six or eight – don't expand any further for a while.
- Try to keep franchises from moving constantly. Build up your existing markets over the course of a few years before allowing teams to move elsewhere.
- Some new technology (RFID chips in the ball, for example) is good; don't go overboard, though. For example: Helmet cams - okay; Camera men on the field at all times – bad. Sideline interviews – okay; interviews "in game" – bad idea. College overtime rule – good; "Battle for Possession" – very bad.
- Some innovations might get your raked over the coals (i.e., allowing players with no college experience to play); be ready to defend yourself.
- Do NOT change the rules of the game mid-season, unless it is to protect players from injury.
- Don't make a complete mockery of the game by instituting gimmick rules, like a three-point PAT or multiple offensive players in motion, or the A-11 rule.
- You can and will lose money. Any amounts you get from TV contracts and national sponsorships will help stanch the bleeding, but you will end up losing money.
- You must minimize the losses by cutting costs and increasing "cost certainty" (read: salary caps and contract amounts).
- You must, at some point down the road, be willing to negotiate with the NFL and its entities over agreements for either player development or honoring contracts. By the time you get to this point, you'll be on your way to profitability anyways; such an agreement will cement that profitability.