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Will the UFL survive, when so many other spring leagues have failed?

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Will the UFL survive, when so many other spring leagues have failed?

The UFL debuts (technically returns) today, when the 2023 champions of the XFL and the USFL get together to launch a merged league. The biggest question is the same question that applies whenever an alternate pro football league launches.

Will it work?

The owners of the XFL and USFL decided that it wasn’t working to have two spring leagues, even though the overlap in their seasons was minimal. So they took two eight-team leagues, combined them, folded half of the teams, and decided to embark on a joint venture.

Will it work?

In nearly six years since the floodgates for legalized gambling were opened, a general idea has emerged that more football creates more opportunities for betting, and thus more interest (and more money). The various post-2018 iterations haven’t landed yet. From the AAF to the XFL 2.0 to the USFL 2.0 to the XFL 3.0, nothing has found its footing.

Now, it’s down to the UFL, which existed under different management more than a decade ago as a four-team league that played during football season. It also failed.

They all have failed, dating back to the WFL of the 1970s. Even the NFL eventually ditched its spring experiment, which started in 1991 as the World League of American Football and evolved into a European league. Despite the opportunities it provided to develop players like Kurt Warner, it wasn’t profitable. Which spelled its doom.

That’s the fundamental problem with non-NFL pro football. It’s not profitable. If it were, the NFL would already have a minor league. For all the potential developmental benefits, the NFL won’t do anything that doesn’t make more money. Spring football, to date, has proven that it can’t.

Maybe it will this time. Isn’t that what we say every other time?

It helps the UFL to have the combined force of Fox and ESPN to televise the games. In today’s environment, does that really matter? Will people stop what they’re otherwise doing to watch the Birmingham Stallions play the Arlington Renegades later today?

Time will tell. If history is a guide, however, time for every spring league is running out even before the first ball is kicked.

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