Pierce: XFL’s new rules could actually be great

XFL owner Vince McMahon announces the return of the XFL on Jan. 25, 2018. McMahon's first run of the XFL occurred in 2001. (TNS)
XFL owner Vince McMahon announces the return of the XFL on Jan. 25, 2018. McMahon's first run of the XFL occurred in 2001. (TNS)

Drew Pierce is a junior journalism major and is a columnist for The Daily News. His views do not necessarily agree with those of the newspaper.

On Tuesday, the XFL announced a set of rules the league will look to once play starts in February.

Despite a shaky past that has tarnished the XFL brand, it will be interesting to see how the new set of rules will help fan engagement and overall enjoyment from the teams and spectators alike. 

In 2001, a new football league tried to break through in the entertainment market but failed miserably. The whole idea was to grab lingering football fans after the NFL season concluded and the XFL season kicked off. A mission of the league was to have fewer rules and encourage raw, rough play. Well, this worked for about 12 hours, and the XFL took a massive dive into a league solely known for extreme hits and major injuries. 

Obviously, this put a bad taste in consumers’ mouths. This makes the XFL’s comeback that much more difficult in 2020. However, just from reading the new rules the XFL has released, it might actually be something that sticks around for a bit. 

One huge change between the NFL and the XFL will be kickoffs. Kickoffs are considered one of the most dangerous aspects of football. The NFL has helped this by making almost every kickoff a touchback. However, the XFL is going about kickoff safety in a different way. 

The kicking team will line up on the return side 35-yard line, and the returning team will line up 5 yards away on the 30-yard line. The kicker, from the opposite 25-yard line, must kick it between the 20 and the end zone. A touchback will be placed on the 35. Both lines will not be able to move until the ball is caught. This whole restructure is encouraging safer kick returns as players aren’t barreling downfield and causing injuries. 

I like it. Kickoff returns are often times some of the most exciting parts of the game, and this influx of injuries has halted exhilarating returns. Why not encourage safer kick returns? 

Another big rule difference from the NFL to the XFL is how extra points are handled. There will be no kicking extra points. Teams will be able to run the offense for either one, two or three extra points from various yard lines of their choosing. This adds yet another level of strategy that makes a game more interesting to the viewer. 

These are only a couple of many major rule overhauls when comparing this new league to the NFL. 

Overall, I like the changes. The XFL is taking certain aspects of football, making them more fun to watch and giving consumers yet another reason to grasp onto football.

I am not saying the XFL will become the future of football or get to the level of the NFL, but it might be a short-term way for fans to have some fun and enjoy the most popular sport in America.  Only time will tell if the XFL will implode into a multi-million-dollar-losing catastrophe, like in 2001, or if fans will cling to a breath of fresh air that could sweep the nation. 

Contact Drew Pierce with comments at dlpierce2@bsu.edu or on Twitter @dpierce3cc.

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