The XFL is coming back, this time with the intention of taking advantage of Donald Trump’s America.
WWE founder and chairman Vince McMahon announced on Thursday that the professional American football league will return for another go, beginning in January 2020.
McMahon teased some details as to how the league will be structured, but what truly stood out in the introduction were the requirements that will essentially serve to control the players on and off the field.
Players with criminal records won’t be allowed in the league, while McMahon intends for all players to stand during the national anthem. There will be no platform for individuals to express themselves politically or socially.
McMahon has characterised the league as being apolitical and family-friendly, but don’t be fooled by his attempt to keep important issues away from the game while keeping the focus soley on football.
The XFL is as much a move to benefit from American’s current climate as it is to capitalise on the never-ending hunger for the nation’s most popular sport.
McMahon is a business man and he knows there is a market for what he’s pitching. Look no further than the countless number of NFL followers who’ve become sick and tired of seeing young, outspoken black men kneel during a song which those fans deem more sacred than the values it stands for.
Many of those same voices are also the ones referring to NFL players – again, often young black men – as ‘thugs’ whenever those players cross a line, whether it’s legally or morally.
By essentially barring those types of players from the XFL, McMahon is inviting disgruntled NFL fans to consume a product that is tailored to them.
And here’s the thing: it might just work.
The return of the XFL, in theory, shouldn’t be much of a success. If the league couldn’t last more than a single season in 2001 when football was at the height of its powers, there’s no reason it should now when the concern over head injuries is at an all-time high.
This iteration of the XFL will also go against the identity that made its initial version so appealing, at least at the start.
XFL 1.0 was anti-establishment and rebellious in nature, fetishising violence, chaos and anarchy.
XFL 2.0, however, has been made out by McMahon to be authoritarian and censored.
Again, it shouldn’t have much of a shelf life in a time the general population is more socially aware and conscious than ever.
But Donald Trump wasn’t expected to be elected President either.
In a year that rocked America’s foundations and challenged its ideals, sports continued to be a source of joy and often a relief from the divisive political landscape.
But if nothing else, 2017 will be characterised as the year when the ‘stick to sports’ narrative officially died as athletes from different backgrounds used their lofty platforms more than ever to take a stand for what they believe in.
On the field, court and ice, there were performances, games and moments that took our collective breath away and pushed the boundaries of drama.
While some familiar faces furthered their legend, a new crop of young and exciting athletes came to the fore and proved that the future is bright.
Here is our recap of a memorable year in the world of US sports, which will be difficult to top going forward.
Father Time is undefeated, but he may be coming across his most formidable opponent yet in Tom Brady.
In the same year the New England Patriots quarterback has turned 40, he’s captured a record fifth Super Bowl ring and put together an MVP-worthy campaign while once again powering one of the best teams in the league.
There’s little reason to believe one of the greatest athletes of all-time will decline anytime soon.
Big things can come in small packages and few are a better example of that than Jose Altuve. The diminutive slugger, standing at just 5-foot-6, dominated the baseball world this year by powering the Houston Astros to a World Series title and earning American League Most Valuable Player honours.
The king stays the king, even in another year where the Larry O’Brien trophy eluded him. LeBron couldn’t overcome the daunting Golden State Warriors in the Finals, but his greatness and reputation remains in tact.
Now, at the age of 32, he’s having arguably his most impressive statistical season yet.
Sid the Kid is no longer a phenom in his 20s, but his impact on the game hasn’t diminished as he’s aged.
His leadership was once again on display as the Pittsburgh Penguins became the first team since 1998 to repeat as Stanley Cup champions, with Crosby earning a second Conn Smythe Trophy.
From start to finish, there was perhaps no single game more entertaining this year than the instant classic that was Game 5 of the World Series.
The Astros and Dodgers combined for seven home runs, while eventual champions Houston erased a deficit three different times en route to pulling out a 13-12 extra-innings win on Alex Bregman’s walk-off hit. What more could you ask for?
Regardless of how far Deshaun Watson goes in the NFL – and early signs in Houston indicate it could be far – his heroics to beat a dominant Alabama team that hadn’t lost in 26 games to win the National Championship will always live on.
Arguably the greatest Super Bowl ever played took place more than 10 months ago, but no one will forget what transpired – or how – anytime soon.
In a game that had it all – outstanding performances, sensational plays and scintillating drama – the jaw-dropping catch by Julian Edelman in the New England Patriots’ 25-point fightback stands out.
A phenomenal moment in a phenomenal game.
There was a moment when it appeared Cleveland might make a series out of the NBA Finals. Kevin Durant had other ideas, however.
His clutch 3-pointer in the final minute of Game 3 gave Golden State an insurmountable lead and all but sealed a title.
Lonzo Ball may not be lighting the NBA world on fire in his rookie season, but there’s been no shortage of attention paid to him and his family, thanks to his father.
The brash LaVar certainly talks the talk, whether it’s pumping up Lonzo or either of his other two sons, and like it or not, we’ve tuned in for the show.
T he NBA has truly become a 365-day sport, with the drama not stopping when the season comes to a close.
Unpredictable player movement has made the summer just as fun as the actual games and in this past offseason, it was taken to another level as seven 2017 All-Stars switched teams.
Colin Kaepernick hasn’t been on NFL sidelines this season, but the movement he started by kneeling during the national anthem in protest spread like wildfire among his peers.
Players across the league took a stand by taking a knee, which caught the attention of American president Donald Trump, who harshly criticised the gesture. Rather than back down, players continued to proudly express their beliefs.
When tragedy struck Houston with the devastating Hurricane Harvey, the damage done was difficult to fathom and harder to mend.
But as the sporting world often does, it came together in the wake of disaster as local teams and athletes gave their time, money and energy to restoring the city, with Houston Texans star J.J. Watt at the forefront by raising more than $37 million for those in need.