Through the years, sports have captured the minds and hearts of people globally. These sports are usually created through a combination of various sports’ qualities. For instance, here enters Arena Football, a sport created by combing concepts from American Football and other recreational activities. However, promotion of the sport to the world became an issue. As a result, the Arena Football League (AFL) was created to manage the Arena Football’s endorsements, marketing and franchise. Over the years, the AFL has faced numerous challenges to keep Arena Football successful together with other major sports, including American Football.
In line with these, this paper shall discuss the AFL and how its presence has aided in promoting Arena Football among football afficionados. Moreover, the problems faced by the league shall also be tackled.
Arena Football League (AFL) is an American football organization that has existed since 1987. It is the known as the longest professional football league running, next to the National Football League (NFL) in the United States of America (Harmon 355).
Arena Football is a derivation from Pro-Football or American Football, which is played outdoors. It is done indoors and has several differences with the original version of Football (Falk 63). The sport, created by Jim Foster after witnessing an indoor soccer game in 1981, was created with rules found in Pro-Football with some modifications. After holding several games, he introduced the Arena Football League in 1987 (http://www.altiusdirectory.com/Sports/arena-football.html). At present, AFL handles franchise ownership and promotion of teams included in the league; obtains funding through sponsorships and broadcasting rights; and runs arenafootball2, a minor league founded in 2000 (http://www.altiusdirectory.com/Sports/arena-football.html).
As mentioned, Arena Football is played indoors while Pro-Football is done outdoors. Included in the differences between Arena Football and Pro-Football is the size of the playing field. The field for Pro-Football or for the NFL is longer which measures 120 yards long with the two end zones measuring 53 1/3 yards wide (Falk 64), while the AFL football field is shorter with a measurement of 50 yards long with also two end zones amounting in 28 yards each. Since it is played indoors, its field is thoroughly padded along the sidelines (http://www.altiusdirectory.com/Sports/arena-football.html). Other variations between the two is observed within the games, how they are played and how they are scored. Arena Football is more fast-paced and has higher scorings as compared to Pro-Football. These rules are altered in order to make indoor football more entertaining for television viewers (Falk 64). Teams are made up of 20 players and are allowed to send 8 players in the playing field (http://www.altiusdirectory.com/Sports/arena-football.html).
The AFL began with 4 teams—Chicago Bruisers, Denver Dynamite, Pittsburgh Gladiators and Washington Commandos—in 1987 (Tuggle 1) and then expanded to 19 teams by 2006. By 2005, audience number increased as compared to previous years (Rein, Kotler & Shields 66). Arenafootball2 or Arena Football 2 was created as a minor league of Arena Football. It carries the same rules and starts play in April and ends in July. This league was designed to help amateur football players train for the future (http://www.altiusdirectory.com/Sports/arena-football.html). The minor league has a championship game held every season, usually around August, referred to as the Arena Cup. The Arena Football 2 games and the Athena Cup are broadcasted through television (http://www.altiusdirectory.com/Sports/arena-football.html).
Salaries in the AFL are lower as compared to the NFL. In AFL, the regular salary of a quarterback ranges from $40,000 to $150,000 and regular players’ wages range from $30,000 to $50,000 (Falk 64). However, Arena Football 2 players receive even lesser salaries since they play in venues in a number of small cities. A player can earn as much as $250 per game (http://www.altiusdirectory.com/Sports/arena-football.html). The AFL also has contracts with television stations such as Fox and NBC and a video-game agreement under EA Sports (Rein, et al. 66). The Arena Football video game is targeted towards football fans that enjoy the AFL and gives them the chance to experience Arena Football similar to how AFL games are played. This game is available in gaming consoles such as XBOX and Playstation 2 (http://www.altiusdirectory.com/Sports/arena-football.html).
Arena Football has found a way to break through the traditional football game. Its fast-paced nature combined with a mixture of certain activities such as hockey, roller derby, football, etc., has become a great form of entertainment for fans (Rein, et al. 66). Despite the fact that other modified sports have been created at the same time, Arena Football has certain factors which contribute to its success. The first one is through its connections. As the league grew, so did its connections with high-profile celebrities who are owners and part-owners of certain AFL teams, such as John Bon Jovi for Philadelphia Soul, Mike Ditka for Chicago Rush and John Elway for Colorado Crush (Rein, et al. 66; Tuggle 1; Harmon 355). Another key factor which put AFL to its successful position is the fact that it puts fans’ financial state into consideration. They placed ticket prices within a range that fans and families can afford—around $22 (Rein, et al. 67). Lastly, putting all of these together and the fact that Arena Football has an accessible indoor nature, fans are able to feel more comfortable as compared to professional and college sports (Rein, et al. 67).
Regardless of its success, the AFL faces a few challenges. The league faces rivalries with college and professional football. Its rules and nature may be similar to that of American Football but many still question whether or not Arena Football can truly be considered as the same sport (Tuggle 1). Also, one of the AFL’s obstacles is to promote and market itself in order to gather a larger number of audiences. Some believe that Arena Football is underexposed. It is believed that to enjoy the sport, one has to watch it live rather than viewing it on television. The loud music, entertainment and lights make Arena Football great for spectators. However, promoting local teams—like the Philadelphia Soul—becomes difficult because of the appearance of local amusement parks and other major sports such as Baseball (Tuggle 1).
In relation to what has been mentioned, another challenge is that today, the presence of other sports gives Arena Football a difficult time to garner spectators and fans. Specifically, the National Basketball Association (NBA), the National Hockey League (NHL), and the Major League Baseball (MLB) are a few of its main competitions (Rein, et al. 66). Other rivals for fans’ attention are other forms of entertainment such as video games and the Internet (Tuggle 1). These are some of the growing industries in the world today and are continuing to hook people of all ages.
All in all, the AFL’s main challenge is to endorse Arena Football to football fans. Obtaining connections is also another issue for them to face. Their connections with powerful and influential personalities like celebrities have assisted the league’s survival. At the same time, the AFL does its best to align itself to the NFL. This agreement may be essential for the league’s survival in the long run (Tuggle 1). Many football leagues, indoor and outdoor, have been created in the past but lacked certain qualities to compete with the NFL. AFL is only one of two football leagues that have been successful in attracting audience. The other is the Women’s Professional Football League or WPFL (Falk 63).
Falk, Gerhard. Football and American Identity. Philadelphia: Haworth Press, 2005.
Harmon, Michael. The Savvy Guide to Fantasy Sports. Indianapolis: Indy Tech
Rein, Philip Kotler and Ben Shields. The Elusive Fan: Reinventing Sports in a Crowded
Maketplace. New York: McGraw-Hill Professional, 2006.
Tuggle, Kathryn Elizabeth. “Arena Football Faces Marketing Challenges, Interest from
Investors.” FOXBusiness. 03 February 2008. 19 May 2008
“Arena Football.” Altius Directory. 04 October 2007. 19 May 2008
Cite this Arena Football League Analysis
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