While AFL struggles, sport needs to be saved

Of all of the sports that I’ve seen and followed, by far the most interesting and most entertaining has been arena football.

Yes, the sport that seems more like a game of backyard football with its 50-yard field and quirky rules that can confuse just about anyone is one of my favorite sports right alongside baseball and soccer.

But arena football, and to a degree all of indoor football, might be coming to an end. The AFL, even after bringing in a business person who has turned casinos’ balance sheets from red to black, might be headed to an end, especially with the news coming out within the past couple of weeks of the Pittsburgh Power folding and the wonder and speculation if more teams might follow suit.

While the AFL as it’s known today might falter sometime in the near future, the sport of arena football needs to be saved.

Arena football, especially when it’s played at its finest like it was back in the 2000s, is a quirky, interesting, enthralling and entertaining game. Literally anything can and will happen and there’s always that wonder of what could happen next. And before NFL owners got involved and “NFL-ized” the game, it just seemed so different from the outdoor game, which is probably why I was drawn to it in the first place. Players had to play both ways, the nets and walls were in full play and even the playoffs, which took only the top eight overall teams in the league, were drastically different. And that gave it an identity.

Even after the hiatus in 2009 and the obviously lower level of play that has followed, I’ve found myself continuing to follow the league and watching games and stilling loving the sport, even if the league hasn’t exactly been all peachy and whatnot. And I know that there are others who share somewhat similar views.

And the worrying aspect that such an interesting sport could go away just seems incredibly disappointing. While the league has had its issues, the sport has always been fun and great to watch. It also seems disappointing after it had just reached its peak in the 2000s. During that time, the AFL had national prominence, there was the af2 as well as the IFL and various other “alphabet leagues” across the country during a wave of strong popularity for arena and indoor football. Now, to see the possible death of the sport possible in the future if things don’t change is really kind of saddening.

Of course, the AFL and arena football was never going to ever be the “fifth major sport in the U.S.” like it seemed like the higher ups inthe 2000s were trying to point it. As cool and interesting as the sport is, it would and probably will never reach that status.

But that’s not I’m looking for. I’m just hoping that the sport of arena football is saved and that it continues to be played. I hope that the AFL is able to turn it around and at least be sustainable.

Arena football is just too interesting of a sport to just go away.