The A11 Football League will kick off its first full season in the spring of 2015.
And when it does, it will have had the ability to take advantage of a number of nuances other outdoor alternative football leagues either didn’t have available, or didn’t fully utilize.
Lead time – From its initial soft launch to kickoff, the A11FL will have had 23 months to get everything in place. That seems like an eternity compared to the World Football League of the 1970s (nine months), the United States Football League of the 1980s (10 months) and the XFL of the 2000s (12 months). The World League of American Football of the 1990s also had nearly two years of lead time, but it also was a National Football League entity.
Technology – The A11FL will have both old-school (television, newspapers and radio) and new-school (Facebook, Twitter, Google+, Instagram, www.a11fl.com, etc.) methods of getting the word out to fans. The recently-departed United Football League had most of those benefits as well, but didn’t fully utilize them until after its first season in 2009. The XFL basically had its Web site and the old-school methods; and the WFL, USFL and WLAF all were pre-Internet.
Fan engagement – Every league wants its fans to be engaged. Otherwise, why have a league in the first place? But engagement is about more than just “name the team contests” and selling tickets and team merchandise. Right now, the A11FL is taking suggestions from fans on its Facebook and Twitter accounts, and via e-mail from its Web site, about anything and everything league-related. You can find out more about the League through its Fan Guide at http://www.a11fl.com/sitedocs/pdf/a11flfanguidev17193-7408.pdf.
Single-entity ownership – Simply put, in a single-entity structure, owners invest in the league, not an individual team, and the league is centrally run. The most successful example of this ownership structure in professional sports is Major League Soccer. The goal in a single-entity ownership structure is perfect for a league like the A11FL – the league manages all costs, and it shares revenues in the best interests of all member teams.
Player safety – No previous outdoor alternative football league started its life with the safety of football players at the fore of the public’s consciousness. And the A-11 offense, which will be utilized in part by A11FL offensive coordinators due to the league’s one rule change of having no uniform numbering system for offensive players, by design reduces the chances of injury while still maintaining the speed, athleticism and dynamics football fans have come to expect from the game.
Community involvement – Players and coaches will be employees of the entire league, meaning they will be expected to be important members of the communities in which they play. This was done in the UFL, as well, but not from the league’s inception. In 2009, the four UFL teams trained in two separate cities (Casa Grande, Arizona, and Orlando, Florida), then traveled to that week’s games. Then, in 2010, UFL teams began to plant roots in their home markets.
The A11FL will be the first outdoor professional alternative football league to have all of the aforementioned advantages available to it from the outset. And there is no question that the advantage will be the League’s once opening kickoff comes in March of 2015.