The Alliance of American Football debuted Saturday to a round of polite applause. The XFL is scheduled for a 2020 return, and other alternative leagues are in the works.
It feels like we go through this exercise once or twice a decade, when some entrepreneur gets the bright idea (for a second time, in some cases) to try and provide football filler for the rest of the year. The NFL is surging towards being a $20 billion a year business; surely there's room for alternate leagues looking just to generate a mere several hundred million.
In most sports, more opportunity for athletes to play and get paid is a good thing. One of the great under-covered stories in basketball is how many U.S. college players go on to wildly interesting and well-compensated careers in every corner of the world. But football is different. The barebones violence of the sport is enough to leave players damaged forever. Any attempts at expanding the sport should be undertaken with careful consideration of how the game has changed and needs to continue to change.
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