How 'xtreme' is the XFL?: Today So Far
- Are you going to check out a Seattle XFL game?
- Seattle has a bit of an economic chicken-or-the-egg situation developing downtown and at city hall.
This post originally appeared in KUOW's Today So Far newsletter for March 22, 2023.
Now that the XFL season is underway, the Seattle Sea Dragons have been hitting the field. Are you going to catch a game?
This is the third attempt at the XFL. The second attempt made headlines in the Before Times, but the pandemic shut it down. The few games from that second attempt produced Seattle audiences up to 30,000 people. Since then, new owners, including Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson, have taken over. Recent games have garnered about 10,000 people.
"It was a fairly successful market (before), so it was a no-brainer for them to come back here," Seattle Times reporter Scott Hanson told Soundside. "....For this league to be successful, it has to be good football. If it's not good football, people are not going to come."
Success is not guaranteed for the XFL. In fact, there is not a good track record for going up against the NFL. The last attempt was the USFL in the 1980s, which managed to last three seasons.
"The fact that it lasted three years, in my opinion is kind of a miracle," sports historian Paul Reeths told Soundside. "....there hasn't been a real attempt to challenge a major league since then. When I look at it, I look at it very fondly, because it was almost miraculous that it made it three seasons."
Reeths says that the USFL failed because the business model didn't work quite right at the time. Also, it couldn't secure any contracts to broadcast games on TV, which is a big moneymaker for sports.
"Media today is so different. You have all these streaming options ... you have broadcasters who are shelling out billions of dollars in rights' payments to the National Football League alone," Reeths said, adding that those broadcasters might welcome an alternative to the NFL to get ratings without paying large fees.
Regular TSF listeners are probably aware that I'm not the most sportsy person around. When anybody asks me anything about the Seahawks, I usually say something like, "I don't really watch baseball" (by the way, don't make that joke in line at a grocery store on the day the Seahawks are playing in the big game — it doesn't go over well). So I don't know how this new football league is supposed to be "alternative." Apparently, kickoffs work differently, and there are no extra points in the XFL. Instead, teams have options to score 1, 2, or 3 points after a touchdown. And ticket prices are a lot nicer, too.
"When I look at the XFL style of play, I see something that is different, but it doesn't really come across as gimmicky to me ... I think what the XFL is really trying to do is sell something more, sell opportunity, sell entertainment. I think there is everything right with that. Sometimes with sports, we get so wrapped up with how our team is doing, or if somebody has money on it, we've kind of lost our way with looking at sports as entertainment."
The part I'm hung up on is the "XFL" part. Clearly, this is an attempt to offer an alternative to the NFL and provide some football entertainment outside of the usual season. But to use "X" in the title? I haven't found a clear answer on what that implies, other than maybe "xtra" or "xtreme." In which case, you really have to live up to that "X." It's like the "X-Files" or the X-Men, you know you're going to get something beyond belief from that "X." So far, as an outsider, all I've observed is just more football from the XFL. So if The Rock is reading, I have a couple suggestions to help fill in this X issue.
- At some point in the game, a random player should be abducted by a UFO, or perhaps pulled underground by mole people. They may or may not be returned by the end of the game. Also, all coaches should be smoking cigarettes on the sidelines, mysteriously manipulating the plays in Machiavellian ways.
- Give each player a "power," they can use during the game. Obviously, they won't have real powers and will need some kind of technological assistance. Perhaps one player could fly short distances. Another could create sheets of ice on the field. And another could shoot fire at the opposing team.
Now that would be xtreme! KUOW's Mike Davis spoke with a couple folks who might have some more reasonable thoughts on the XFL and its prospects. Check out that conversation here.
Note: KUOW online editor Stephen Howie has informed me that there is also the "X Games," which is focused on "action sports" like skateboarding, motocross, BMX, etc. Which I think still leans into my argument that X = extreme. Main point: If curling is still more entertaining than football (and it is), then you're not extreme enough.
Seattle has a bit of an economic chicken-or-the-egg situation developing downtown and at city hall.
Downtown advocates and businesses have asked for a handful of policies to help the neighborhood recover from the pandemic. That recovery has been slow. Among these requests: A business tax holiday. The argument here is that giving businesses a financial break in this way will help them have funds to recover and power through.
But a counter argument from at least one city leader says otherwise.
"I think it's shortsighted and it's contradictory to what good economic policy tells us, that data supports, and the economic proof has shown us," said Councilmember Teresa Mosqueda. "When we have revenue that supports keeping people employed, when we prevent layoffs in the public sector — which both the B&O tax and JumpStart have done — it actually buoys our local economy and it supports the private market as well."
So does business need to be successful first in order for the city to secure decent revenue (aka taxes), or does the city need those taxes in order for local businesses to thrive? An answer to this question may come next month when Mayor Bruce Harrell is expected to unveil a downtown recovery plan. Until then, Harrell is saying "chill out" (my words, not his) to folks as he gets this plan in place and drums up support for it. Read more here.
AS SEEN ON KUOW
Elly McCarthy in a classroom at Pacific Crest Montessori School, holding a class pet, Burnadette the Bearded Dragon! RadioActive’s McKenna Kilayko talked with Elly about practicing empathy-based communication and interaction in the classroom. (Elly McCarthy)
DID YOU KNOW?
Happy birthday Marcel Marceau! He's perhaps the most famous mime to have ever lived. Sorry, Étienne Decroux fans. Or even Jean-Gaspard Deburau stans. I know that may be a hot take, and could divide a lot of mime fans out there. Honestly, however, I've never been too bothered when a mime is yelling at me.
Marcel Marceau was born March 22, 1923, as Marcel Mangel in Strasbourg, France. He would be 100 years old today. Most folks are aware of him because of his mime craft (I'm promoting "mime craft" as a new type of video game, like Minecraft, however, players have to be silent and can't jabber on and on about what they're building with non-players). Marceau's roots, and his contributions to our world, go far beyond the stage. He first was attracted to theater while watching a Charlie Chaplin movie, but any artistic aspirations were interrupted when Nazi Germany invaded. His family was Jewish, so they fled and hid in France. His father was sent to Auschwitz, however, where he was murdered. Marceau and his brother joined the French Jewish Resistance and carried out operations to save Jewish children from Nazi-occupied regions. Around this time, amid fighting a war, he started miming. Marceau used mime work to help children stay quiet while hiding from Nazis, enroute to Switzerland. He is credited with helping save at least 70 children, and also other work such as forging documents and IDs. After the war, he opted to study the craft in Paris, which led to his well-known character "Bip," and worldwide fame.
"Destiny permitted me to live," Marceau said in 2001. "This is why I have to bring hope to people who struggle in the world and in my art I will bring dreams..."
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