The XFL’s third week of the 2020 XFL season continued to showcase entertainment value from within the league. From crazy homemade fan costumes and fights, to a sellout crowd Saint Louis BattleHawks’ much-anticipated home opener, the XFL has proven itself as the gift that keeps on giving.
Rare Love for the Instant Replay
One of the most unique features of the XFL is the transparency of the replay analysis by the on-field referees and the sky judges in the booth. With live mics on both groups, viewers at home can listen in to the discussion and debate as the officials confirm or overturn the call on the field.
Commentators on all networks have echoed the prevailing sentiment in the media that this is a great move for sports. In the era of instant replay, this is something that could be easily applied to other professional sports leagues, particularly the NFL. Allowing fans to hear, in realtime, the reasoning behind penalty calls might help fanbases avoid erupting on social media after difficult, game-defining calls (I’m looking at you Saints fans.)
Outrageous Fan Attire
With new teams, new logos and mascots and not huge amount of team gear to start out the season, fans have none the less been…. creative when it comes to showing love for their teams.
From homemade costumes, to painted faces, masks and shoulder pads, we have seen some incredibly innovative costumes. Two of the best seen this weekend include a Tampa Bay Vipers fan who made a mask and helmet combo and a Saint Louis BattleHawks fan who was prepared to take flight with some hand-activated wings.
Sellout in Saint Louis
Since the Rams moved back to the Golden State in 2016, Saint Louis has been without a professional football team. When the XFL announced team locations for this season, many were curious what the football starved fans of the Gateway City would think of their new team.
After playing their first two game on the road, the BattleHawks finally returned to their new home at the Dome. The announced attendance of 29,554 was a sellout of the stadium’s lower bowl. This singlehandedly boosted the weekend’s overall XFL attendance to 81,942, a 7.4% increase from Week 2.
|Host Team||Stadium||Attendance||% Change|
|Tampa Bay Vipers||Raymond James Stadium||18,117||Home Opener|
|Seattle Dragons||CenturyLink Field||22,060||24.38|
|St. Louis BattleHawks||The Dome at America’s Center||29,554||Home Opener|
|Los Angeles Wildcats||Dignity Health Sports Park||12,211||18.6|
While the weekend’s overall attendance was record breaking thanks to the BattleHawks fans, attendance in Seattle and Los Angeles dwindled. The Wildcats’ dismal 12,211 is something that should cause concern for league executives. Hopefully the team’s recent success persuades some ambivalent sports enthusiasts to make their way down to Carson in the coming weeks.
Right now the XFL is healthy and active, showing fans at home and in the stadium what football can be. Each week seems to cement the legitimacy and legacy of the league further into the annals of sports history. Every game seems to invite us to rethink some of the norms of American Football; last week we saw the league’s first 3-point conversion, this week the first onside kick and kickoff returned for a touchdown.
The key for the XFL will be maintaining this momentum once its novelty wears off. There are no more inaugural home openers and the number of “firsts” slims each week, ultimately leaving fans with just an on-field product that needs to resonate and inspire fandom. The league boasts fantastic quality of play and parity among its teams, what matters is if people care enough to watch that.
Next week as we see the TV ratings and attendance numbers settle at an equilibrium, we’ll have a better idea of how strong the XFL really is.