The death of the AFL. “The who?” you ask… I don’t know either.
The acronym AFL has several meanings, maybe even more than I know. I’m not on Twitter, but I would assume that with pressures to be concise people will have made something out of the letters. Some of the acronyms are: American Football League (a page in history), Australian Football League (Footy), Anti-Football League (Footy Haters), American Federation of Labor (because Union doesn’t quite sound as fun), Artists for Literacy (more than just pictures!), Aeroflot (ICAO code for a Russian Airline) and Alcoholics For Life (nobody likes a quitter).
There’s one more AFL… the Arena Football League. But, like many others during this current economic crisis, the indoor intramurals have “suspended operations indefinitely,” which is business code for “doomsday is here, consider it done.” The AFL is expected to file for Chapter 7 bankruptcy liquidation. Time to auction off some memorabilia! Wait, no… memorabilia implies collectibles which implies value, so no… not memorabilia. Stuff. Time to auction off some stuff!
At the time of the formal demise, the AFL was down to fifteen teams. That’s a lot of teams. That’s twice as many teams as there are teams with talent in the NBA. In 2008, twelve teams out of the seventeen teams made the playoffs. Two division winners and four wild cards from each conference. Very selective.
The team names, however, came from the same minds that created WNBA team names. Can you tell which league the following names belong to? Crush, Fever, Blaze, Sky, Rampage, Dream, SaberCats, Mercury, Soul, and Storm. Of course you can’t, because they are similar in both style and lack of familiarity since both leagues are as irrelevant as the non-profit organization that is Major League Lacrosse. If you didn’t forget about the team name game because you are wondering if there really is such a thing as professional lacrosse, the answers are: AFL, WNBA, AFL, WNBA, AFL, WBA, AFL, WNBA, AFL and both.
The downfall of the AFL goes beyond soft names. The combination of empty bank accounts and lack of popularity does it every time. That’s right, kids, popularity matters. Without it, where will sponsorship, revenue and talent come from? Right, the NFL.
“Oh, no! Where will rejected NFL players go?” Don’t you worry. The CFL still exists. Thanks to our neighbors of the north, a minor league beyond college can carry on. Hopefully, this is where we’ll see Michael Vick… he can play for the Tiger-Cats, since he’s not a dog person. Perhaps it’s time for the CFL to expand to nine teams by adding a U.S. Rejected Rehab team or, since they like animal names up there, a Jailbird Team. Pick up the slack, CFL, get on the opportunity.
It is possible that the AFL missed an opportunity to combine indoor football with American Gladiator games to create a hybrid between sport and popular nineties television entertainment. More likely, however, the AFL has failed because the current economy is dumping off insufficient businesses quicker than Blockbuster can get out of its leases (why they have any brick and mortar locations is beyond me).
On the bright side, the AFL should be proud. Twenty-two years of semi-sport is quite the accomplishment. That’s about twenty years longer than anyone could have expected.