The return of the USFL has proven that there is a demand for spring football. There have been many incarnations of pro football outside of the NFL over the years and the original return of the USFL was greeted with excitement – and a little trepidation – from fans of the original league back in the 1980s.
But last season saw fans engage with the USFL in a way that hasn’t always been so noticeable with the other spring football leagues. When the 2023 season began in April it became the first spring football league to complete its first season and return for a second since the first time the USFL made the headlines. Football betting online is now a bigger thing and the fans are obviously enjoying the race for the postseason this year – but can we count on more USFL seasons to come?
Don’t Call it a Comeback
When the USFL appeared in 1983 it really looked like the NFL would have some serious competition for the top players. Everyone knows about the likes of Steve Young, Jim Kelly and Herschel Walker delighting the crowds – and, for a moment, it did feel like the entire football world has changed.
We now know that it didn’t quite end up as the originators had hoped. The proposal to go head-to-head with the NFL probably wasn’t the wisest idea. But there was a real belief that change was happening in football. The news that the USFL would return in 2022 was greeted well by the fans but with more questions from the media and pundits. But we have seen just how successful the league has been in the last year and a half. Now it looks like the USFL could be here to stay.
This Season in USFL
As exciting as last year was in the USFL, this season has been enthralling from the start. Even just over halfway through the regular season, every single one of the teams in both the North and South divisions could still make a run to the postseason and the parity puts just about every other pro sports league to shame.
It is difficult to confidentially predict which teams will make it to the Division Finals. Even the Birmingham Stallions, last season’s championship team, is fighting just to be still playing football after week 10. There have been even more innovative ideas launched and the fans are flocking back to see their new favorite teams with their classic and familiar names.
Spring Football Competition
Even those in charge of USFL would agree that there is difficulty in making spring football a thing. The Alliance of Football came and went without the fans really getting engaged, and the XFL has been stop and start since it was re-launched in 2020. Sports fans love football – but the NFL dominates the game.
But the USFL has begun to look like it could be the league that spring football devotees turn to. The XFL may have had a very high-profile comeback but the ratings show that there is more interest in the USFL. When the XFL playoffs went head-to-head with the USFL regular season in week three, it was the latter that came out on top. The television ratings have only increased since then and the league as a whole seems to be getting more attention.
How USFL is Planning for the Future
A competitive league is the basis of any successful sports enterprise and we have already mentioned just how level this season has been in the USFL. That gives the fans of every team hope that it will be them celebrating a championship. But, more importantly, it gives TV viewers a reason to tune in.
Drone and helmet cameras have given fans even more insight into the game and look to be the kind of ideas that the NFL borrowed from the USFL and the XFL the first time around to improve its broadcasting.
But the news that more of the old names had been trademarked by the league, along with a number of new locations, suggests that the USFL is planning for the future. It may mean expansions, it may mean relocations, but it does feel like the league is counting on being around for a while. There is definitely a fan base for spring football – and it seems like the USFL is carving out its space in the world of pro sports.