SPORTS FOCUS: Football in spring? Nah

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To everything there is a season.

When will the architects of spring football leagues get it?

Football, a sport once nearly banned by Theodore Roosevelt in the early 1900s due to the number of injuries – and deaths – has evolved into a true America’s Pastime. Baseball, the only sport protected by Congress, is fast becoming yesterday’s news. Overblown salaries and too many promotional commercials, and (let’s not forget) the desperate move to add interleague games to the schedule after the infamous lockout that spanned two seasons in 1994 and 1995.

Baseball, like golf, are not meant to be enjoyed at home in front of the television. It’s even a stretch to say that there’s nothing like being at the game. Go ahead, if you can afford it.

Football doesn’t need gimmicks to succeed. Why repeat the mistakes of other efforts in the past to put together a schedule, only, as happened last spring, to fold up and move on into the night as happened last spring?

The leagues are numerous: the World Football League (1974), United States Football League (1983-1985), the World League of American Football (1991), NFL Europe (1995-2007), XFL (2001), United Football League (2009-2012), Alliance of American Football (2019) and XFL II (2020).

The redux of the USFL, which, if you recall, was Donald Trump’s venture into professional sports and featured such players as Hershel Walker, Jim Kelly and Steve Young, folded after three seasons. It’s back in 2022, but, if you’ve watched a game (don’t tell your friends), the only thing you’ll see is bleachers.

You can’t fit a square peg in a round hole. Football is a fall sport. It always has been and always will be. Spring is for baseball; and, for those who follow winter sports like basketball and hockey, spring is for NBA and NHL playoffs.

The National Football League, by far the most popular professional sport (at least in the United States), has been a trademark of American culture. It’s appeal, in my humble opinion, is a spinoff from college football, a Saturday afternoon icon for decades and made even more impactful due to the voices of the game: Chris Schenkel, Keith Jackson, among others.

If it were not for the invention of the television, football, and every other sport that have captivated the attention and imagination of the nation, would not have been possible. Television transformed sports into easily recognizable entities.

But television, or any other platform, will not transform spring football.