Some numbers are in regarding XFL 2.0 in its second weekend of existence.
- League-wide attendance was up slightly due in large measure to almost 30,000 folks showing up in Seattle to see the Seattle Dragons in their home opener despite the typical February rains in Seattle.
- Average TV ratings over the four games dipped slightly but it was not a precipitous drop.
You can make of those numbers what you will. I think the most important number from Week 2 comes from an Internet based sportsbook, Pointsbet.com. According to the folks there, the betting handle for Week 2 games was up as compared to Week 1 games. That is a big deal for two reasons:
- Much of football’s popularity in the US is driven by wagering. A bigger handle in Week 2 is a good sign that people liked what they saw in Week 1 sufficiently to maintain interest in the games and to “have a little action riding on them”.
- Many bettors go out of their way to watch those games with “a little action riding on them”. More wagering on more games should goose TV ratings and if TV ratings get to the point where TV becomes a reliable and significant revenue stream…
I saw almost all the Dallas/LA game on Sunday afternoon. I could not find a reported attendance for that game, but it sure looked sparse to me – – like maybe fewer than 10,000 folks? There is an interesting sports dynamic at work here. The Rams are not coming close to filling the LA Coliseum; the Chargers have not been able to fill a soccer stadium that seats 30,000 folks and the team often plays to crowds where the visiting fans equal the number of Charger fans; now the LA Wildcats seem not to be drawing flies in that same soccer stadium.
A couple of years ago, NFL teams were climbing over one another to move to LA. The Rams’ ownership is in the final stages of constructing a new stadium that is rumored to cost somewhere around $4B. However, as of now, the fanbase in LA has been lukewarm to the presence of pro football in town.
While MLB is in the throes of getting out from under a “cheating scandal”, there ought to be a bit of angst involved regarding the upcoming NCAA Basketball Tournament. It gives me no joy to mention it because I believe that March Madness is THE single best sporting event of the year. Nevertheless, there is just a bit of stink that is attached to what will be happening in mid-March.
Recall that FBI probe into the seamy underbelly of college recruiting. That information and some convictions at trial have cast a bad light on some programs and coaches in the college game. The problem is that the NCAA has not been able to take whatever information has been made available to the point that it can determine if and how it will enforce its own damned rules about recruiting student-athletes. Here are some teams who have been associated with some “irregularities” in the recruiting business based on FBI investigations:
- Arizona 18-7
- Auburn 22-4
- Kansas 23-3
- LSU 18-8
- Memphis 18-8
- Oklahoma 16-10
- NC State 17-9
- South Carolina 16-10
I am NOT accusing all those schools of “cheating” when it comes to recruiting. At the same time, I would not be gobsmacked to learn that all of them had dirty laundry in that area. What I am saying is that there is a cloud hanging over all those teams and 4 of them are pretty close to shoo-ins for tournament berths while the other 4 teams could play their way in with strong showings over the next couple of weeks. That is what I mean by there being a “bit of stink” surrounding the tournament as a whole.
Once again, put the blame and the onus where it belongs here – – on the super-sleuths in the NCAA who are only even-money odds to be able to find their ass with either hand. Even with FBI information in hand, they have been unable to get themselves into a position where they are willing to enforce their own rules. No one has asked them to do anything in the criminal prosecution realm; they have not found a way to do anything associated solely with their own hyper-restrictive rule book.
The NCAA makes the Keystone Kops look like a model of efficiency and effectiveness. [I suspect that many folks here might be unfamiliar with these guardians of the public welfare from the silent film days so here is a link to a 3-minute You Tube compilation of some of their antics.] With that level of competency in the “policing function”, what might be the chances that the NCAA keepers of wisdom might evolve a new set of recruiting rules that will eliminate the stink? I think that’s about as likely as allowing an astronaut to telecommute from home.
Finally, the time spent here on the NCAA and its ineptitude led me to The Official Dictionary of Sarcasm for its definition of “Degree” – – that which all student-athletes put first in their priorities within their collegiate experience(s):
“Degree: A certificate of academic achievement awarded at the college level. Comes in very hand when asking people if they want fries with that.”
But don’t get me wrong, I love sports………