On April 16, 2022, one of the latest experimentations in expanding US football kicked off with the United States Football League (USFL). Like many other attempts at launching a counterpart to the NFL, the USFL faces ample challenges. In addition to competing for viewers with the NFL, the USFL must also contend with the NCAA and 2023-ready XFL.
Still, there’s more demand for football than ever before. Since 2018, US states have rolled out active betting markets, which has sparked new interest in the sport. Sites like OddsChecker highlight deals from sportsbooks, so bettors can shop around for the right line. Unsurprisingly, top sportsbooks offered lines on the USFL this year.
The USFL completed its inaugural season on July 3, 2022. The Birmingham Stallions defeated the Philadelphia Stars to become the USFL’s first champion team. But will the Fox Sports-led league have what it takes to stick around?
2022’s USFL is technically the fourth attempt at such a league. The first attempt came in 1945, then again in 1983, and finally in 2010. So, what made this season stick out? First and foremost, the USFL ran during the NFL and NCAA’s off months. It gave football fans a league to follow while their favorite professional franchises and college teams were out of commission.
Second, the USFL launched its eight teams in sports-crazy markets. For example, the Birmingham Stallions are a huge coup for Alabama football fans. Without an NFL team to cheer on, locals only have college sports to follow. The same goes for Rutherford, New Jersey. Local sports fans have to share their football teams with the tristate area—and both the Giants and the Jets are ‘New York’ teams.
The USFL isn’t just competing with domestic leagues like the NFL and the NCAA. As mentioned above, the XFL is set for a 2023 restart. Meanwhile, Canada has its own CFL that caters to North American fans. For football lovers, the expansion of top leagues isn’t a problem—it’s a solution.
However, the fact that the US and Canada are set to host four professional leagues may spell disaster for some due to a shortage of players. The NCAA sees thousands of football players compete each year, but that doesn’t mean there are enough stars to fill out rosters in all four leagues.
So, what does this mean for the USFL? Looking ahead, the league will have to sweeten its salaries or other benefits in order to attract and then keep players who might not have made the cut for the NFL, but aren’t sure whether the CFL, XFL, or USFL is right for them.
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