Mar 31, 2024; Houston, TX, USA; Houston Roughnecks safety Donald Rutledge Jr. (38) tackles Houston Roughnecks cornerback Jai Dunn-Liddell (27) at the line of scrimmage in the third quarter of a game at Rice Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Joseph Buvid-USA TODAY Sports

Newly-Founded UFL Kicks Off Season

The United Football League (UFL), a recently developed spring football league, began its inaugural season on Saturday. The league is composed of eight teams, with all eight in action this past weekend.

League Merger

The UFL formed as a merger of the XFL, which had been bought by Dwayne Johnson, and the United States Football League (USFL). The XFL and USFL were two of the largest spring football leagues operating in 2022 and 2023, but each featured viewership struggles. USFL viewership was down by 16% in 2023 from its inaugural season and was behind the XFL by 3%, with both well under one million viewers per broadcast. In 2023, USFL President Daryl Johnston explained that he was worried about TV rating challenges his league was facing, especially in comparison to the rival XFL.

To me, to be on par with our competition from a ratings standpoint in Year 2, I’m still trying to figure out: How did that happen? Because our product, in my opinion, when I watch it, they’re not even close.

Both leagues were also facing financial issues. The XFL lost approximately $60 million during it’s 2023 season and made cuts that affected up to 30 employees. Other workers were shifted to seasonal employment.

With these issues in mind, the leagues decided their best financial opportunity may come from a partnership.

Opening Weekend

After the XFL and USFL merged in 2023 to form the UFL, it’s season began this weekend.

https://twitter.com/XFL2023/status/1774043908533862787

The league’s season began with a matchup between the Arlington Renegades and Birmingham Stallions, the XFL and USFL champions. The opening weekend slate featured three other games, each including some interesting moments.

In a matchup between the Saint Louis Battlehawks and the Michigan Panthers, the Panthers kicked a 64-yard field goal to win the game. Panthers kick-off specialist Jake Bates pushed the ball through the up-rights for his first field goal since high school.

https://twitter.com/XFL2023/status/1774215764787998727

In another game on Sunday, the San Antonio Brahmas attempted a trick play that saw their center, Alex Mollette, catch a touchdown.

The XFL allows for in-game interviews, so Brahmas punter Brad King discussed the play call seconds later.

Looking Forward

The UFL will be back in action on April 6 and 7 for week two of the new league. The league will play 10 regular-season weeks, with a two-round playoff concluding on June 16. Johnson, one of the owners of the UFL, explained that he believes the UFL can succeed.

I think it’s going to work out, we’ve got a real shot with this now that we’ve merged XFL and USFL together to create UFL.

The UFL will now see if it can overcome the past woes spring football leagues have faced.

About Noah White

I'm a freshman at the University of Florida, majoring in journalism and public relations. I enjoy playing soccer and volleyball with friends, watching movies with my girlfriend and, of course, writing. I also know more about Liberty League women's soccer than you do.

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