Sports Talk: The XFL 2.0 is off to a good start … hope it stays that way


Hockey Day in Canada is all over. Plenty of fun had by all for four days here in Yellowknife and for some of you around the North.

If you were in Deline and Norman Wells, you got to see the Stanley Cup and it only makes sense as Deline is the birthplace of hockey. No, Windsor, N.S., it’s not you, no matter what kind of crap you offer up as evidence. We have the diaries of Sir John Franklin himself that tell us plus the stories of elders.

Hope you enjoyed it, if you celebrated. Let’s hope the $55,000 spent by the city of Yellowknife brings us much tourism.

Anyway …

Maybe it works this time

So the XFL is back for its second go-round. The XFL is Vince McMahon’s attempt to bring post-NFL football to the U.S. His first try in 2001 started with a bang but quickly fizzled out as people simply didn’t gravitate toward a product which looked too much like professional wrestling, which is what McMahon is known for.

Welp, he must have learned his lesson because what we got in the first week of this new try was actual football with no theatrics, no garbage skits and, most importantly, no stupid nicknames on the backs of jerseys. And the football we got wasn’t that half-bad. Sure, there were some kinks to work out but the product looked pretty good.

I watched parts of three games in the first week and I’m of the mind that this could work. The crowds were good – an average of around 17,000 per game – and they seemed to be in it. You know why? Because there’s plenty of fan-friendly things about this new version.

The kickoff rule is one which intrigues me. Basically, the XFL has gotten rid of the kicking team’s run-up and now has both sets of teams line up five yards apart: kicking team on the return side’s 35-yard line and the return side on its 30-yard line. No one can move until the kick returner touches the ball. It’s a novel approach because it cuts down on the threat of concussions, which was always a threat under the old way, which saw running starts and wedges and all sorts of mayhem.

If a kick lands short of the 20-yard line, the kicking team is punished with the return team getting the ball spotted at the 45-yard line and if there’s a touchback (ball goes through the end zone), the return team comes out to the 35-yard line.

I like the transparency of the replay review booth. You can see what the reviewers are looking at and hear how they come to their decision. This is already done in rugby, where the referee, who is mic’ed up, speaks to the television match official (TMO) to look at a certain play. We can see and hear everything that goes into making that decision. Plenty of people who commented about the XFL’s first week pointed out this as the biggest positive.
At the end of the day, it’s the quality of the football that will decide whether XFL 2.0 survives but if week one is anything to go on, it has a chance.

As Canadian as …

Wikimedia Commons
Vasek Pospisil pulled off one of the most Canadian things ever seen in professional sports. You’ll like it.

There are several things which the world knows Canada for: beer, hockey, beer, hockey, beer and a sport called hockey. Something else we’re known for is maple syrup (yes, indeed) and Vasek Pospisil of Vancouver made sure everyone knew that at a tennis tournament in France earlier this month.

Pospisil played in the Open Sud de France and got to the men’s singles final, losing to Gael Monfils of France but he managed to take out David Goffin, the second seed, and fellow Canuck Denis Shapovalov, the third seed, along the way.

An impressive performance that will see him rise in the world rankings to just outside the top-100 but it’s what he did during a changeover during the final that had everyone talking. Pospisil was obviously looking for a boost of some sort against Goffin. He went into his bag and pulled out a bottle of pure maple syrup. He cracks it open and takes a slug like that’s the normal thing to do when you have a bottle of maple syrup.

Felix Auger-Aliassime, another of Canada’s top young tennis studs, noticed it and gave his approval as did hundreds of other people. I give it a seal of approval as well because it’s perhaps the most Canadian thing ever seen on a tennis court. Pospisil himself even said if it didn’t scream Canadian pride, what does? And he’s right.

You can fully expect Pospisil to be fielding endorsement offers in the coming days.

And finally …

Good Idea: Paying people prize money after they play in a tournament.

Bad Idea: Players from the British Darts Organization World Championships waiting nearly a month for their prize money.

I’ve written about the state of the British Darts Organization (BDO) before and how it’s on its last legs but this will most likely spell the end of it.

The BDO promised those who played in its world championships that they would be paid 28 days following the end of the tournament on Jan. 12. Feb. 9 was day 28 and still nothing. Feb. 10 was day 29 and still nothing. Feb. 11 was day 30 and the players were finally paid what they were owed. Apparently, the money came from a T.V. contract with Eurosport, one of the official broadcasters, in a lump sum on Feb. 11. This money was also to go toward the other events being hosted by the BDO over the next three years on T.V. If that’s to be believed, then there’s no more T.V. money coming in from anywhere.

What a pathetic and sad state of affairs. If I was one of those players, I would tell the BDO to get stuffed the next time it invites me to a tournament. If it takes that long to get prize money, why would I spend the money to travel and play? The BDO just needs to shut it down. What sponsor would want to do business with this shower of morons? And if the players go back to play in their tournaments, they deserve all the grief that comes with it.
Until next time, folks …


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