The Arena Football League voted Sunday night not to play the 2009 season, and there's no guarantee it will return in 2010. That's unfortunate.
Everybody wants to start a football league. Vince McMahon tried the XFL. Last season some heavy hitters tried to start a league that would feature former college stars playing for a franchise on or near their home turf. It folded before a game was played. Another new league has been proposed. I'm for anything that creates jobs, but I assure you those jobs will be temporary.
When was the last time a new league made an impact in any sport? I don't want to sound sexist, but the only reason the WBA is in business is because the NBA props it up.
We have the right number of sports and don't have room for any more. The major ones bleed into each other and briefly overlap. The minor ones remind us of old times and remain valid by charging old-time ticket prices.
The Arena Football League did excellent work, attracting owners such as Jerry Jones (Cowboys) and Arthur Blank (Falcons), John Elway and Jon Bon Jovi. The AFL also gave us the Minnesota Fighting Pike, a name that will live on even if the team did not. Kurt Warner played in the AFL.
Charlotte had two teams and Raleigh one.
The Rage came to Charlotte in 1992 and drew big crowds at Charlotte Coliseum and great reviews. This was three years before the Panthers and the league was like nothing we had seen. Somebody was always bouncing off a rail or a net. It was like a cross between football and pinball. Something was always going on.
Newness fades, however, and the Rage left in 1996.
Four years later the Carolina Cobras came to Raleigh. The Cobras played there from 2000-2003 and then hit I-85 and came to Charlotte. They two seasons in the Queen City.
What I liked about the league is that it didn't pretend to be more than it was. It wasn't the NFL, wasn't going to compete with the NFL and did not complain about the attention the NFL attracted.
I never left a game bored, and my short-attention span kids got a kick of out of the short-attention span football. But how many of us have room for a new sport? How much spare time and disposable income do we have even in good financial times?
I hope the league, which had 16 teams last season, comes back. But if it doesn't, it should be the model for every new league. It lasted from 1987-2008.
What potential leagues should take away is this: The AFL did everything right yet ultimately it went out of business.