December 30, 2007

The Seven Lean Months, They Are A Comin'

WITH BOWL WEEK UNDERWAY and the NFL playoffs soon upon us, football fans' excitement is necessarily tempered with the realization that in just a month, the professional football season will be over. Then, the true test of willpower begins, for it will be seven long months before our teams again take the field in regular-season play. For football fans everywhere, this is a drought that no other sporting events can truly quench.

Oh, sure, there are substitutes. For instance, some people -- especially here in the Northeast -- will turn to America's second sport of baseball to pass the time. Others will look forward to March Madness and later, the NBA playoffs. Some even may look forward to the NHL playoffs. But for true football fans, these don't really muster up in comparison to the greatest sport of all time.

However, there is good news. Thanks to America's glorious capitalist system, the immutable laws of economics and the realization this seven-month football drought created a massive market inefficiency, 2008 should mean PLENTY of professional football will be available to football fans during the off-season. Here's a handy guide to the various minor leagues that will play during the off season:

As you can see, things get started again less than a month after the Super Bowl, when the Arena Football League starts up again. You'll be able to see AFL games on ABC and ESPN. The af2, the AFL's development league, starts up at the end of March with live games in smaller cities all around the nation.

But then, in April, the All-American Football League starts up play for the first time. Spring football, college rules, ten-game season. The teams are primarily based in the South, although I will be rooting for Team Michigan, which will play at Ford Field -- the home of the Detroit Lions. There's no word on TV arrangements yet, but I have to think they'll have some -- perhaps with one of the cable companies' sports networks. We'll see. In any event, if you're a Southerner, and you crave football action, and it's spring, you might want to give their games a shot.

In late June the Canadian Football League starts its regular-season play. Here at The Rant, we're hoping the CFL figures out a way to get live games throughout the season broadcast in New England. Right now, the situation is less than optimal because the games are broadcast on NESN, which is understandably more interested with the Red Sox and other Boston-related sports than the CFL. I mean, one time I was looking forward to watching a CFL game with my favorite team -- the Saskatchewan Roughriders -- and NESN broadcast a Paw Sox game instead. Yes, the Paw Sox. Yes, the AAA team from Rhode Island. No, I was not happy at this.

In August, there's rumors the United Football League will start up play. There's not too much news about the league yet except that it is now winnowing down its selection sites for teams. Basically, from what I can tell, the whole UFL concept is based on rectifying a market inefficiency. It plans to broadcast games on Friday nights, this being a time when the NFL is forbidden from broadcasting games under the 1961 Sports Broadcasting Act. It also plans to base teams in cities where there aren't presently NFL teams, including Los Angeles, Mexico City and Las Vegas. Thus, this should allow the UFL to compete without pulling a USFL and trying to go mano-a-mano with the NFL.

Please God, let it work. Please.

Of course, by August we'll be getting ready for the NFL and college football seasons again, and football fans everywhere will be well again. Still, though, this year promises to contain plenty of glorious professional football action under a variety of different rule schemes and leagues. Which is good. Very good indeed.

Posted by Benjamin Kepple at December 30, 2007 10:00 PM | TrackBack
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