Consider this an open letter to all football fans not sold on Fan Controlled Football. Granted, Season 1.0 was not perfect by any means, but it showed more pros than cons. In this article, I will be drawing comparisons to other football leagues (XFL, AAF, NFL, etc.) and other sports leagues.
Let’s start with what any football league should strive for, good onfield product. Considering the shortened field and the Arena Football stadium, you already know you won’t be getting 73-yard bombs or 99-yard rushing touchdowns. But the tight space on the field opens opportunities for the player’s athleticism to shine. As of writing this, the short field seems to favor the offense more, which is great for the common fan who loves high-scoring games. But don’t count defense out quite yet, as owner Ray Austin has stated that 2.0 will bring more emphasis on defense. Plus, if you watch the games, the defense was not bad by any means, especially later on in the season. While the XFL innovated unique football for the 100-yard field, the FCF innovated unique football for the 55-yard field.
I don’t see the FCF as direct competition for the NFL. That’s more XFL’s gig. It’s more like an alternative to the shield that happens in the off-season so that you can like both!
What Fan Controlled Football gives us
So it has a good on-field product, good underground players, and it’s fun to watch. What makes it better is it reinvents how we, the user, view football. Due to the heavy fan involvement, we don’t leave anything to general managers or executives, so it’s up to us. With weekly drafting, we are putting more value on the individual player rather than the team. This makes it more like the NBA or MLB, where instead of going for big names, you go for role players that can help you succeed in certain areas.
A perfect example is the Wild Aces’ receiver Rechaud Floyd, who was only targeted 5 times but was highly productive when it came to point-after attempts. Because he could win the 1 on 1’s, he had earned a special value, which got him tagged. This analytical view makes us appreciate the players more, offensively and defensively, so we watch all games to see who played well. Now not everyone is going to be available, which takes me to my next point.
It’s not perfect, but it’s fun.
Franchise tagging was a little bit of a mess in Season 1.0, mainly because no one knew how many tags a team had and the whole Josh Gordon/Robert Turbin debacle. The league needs to figure out a set limit of tags and rules on bringing in new players in the pool. But, despite this messiness, you can immediately see the value and impact of these tags. Because we, the fans, are given a pool of players to pick from each week, we are given a chance to keep one we like. It’s a nerve-wracking and wonderfully tense feeling to discuss with your team who might get tagged and, if so, who to draft if they do/don’t get tagged. Because of how analytical it makes the viewer become, things like game film and statistics are paramount to the success of each team’s draft. While the game film is self-explanatory, the statistics are not.
NFL stats are the industry standard for football itself. Fans typically think of a 100-yard field when they think of football, so Arena football stats don’t get a second thought. So while we can enjoy the NFL stats and use them to argue our favorite players, FCF stats hold more weight. In a game where we, the audience, choose players, we need to evaluate them. Some things are easy to look at, yards, touchdowns, and so on, but with the extra point being 1 on 1 match-up, a new stat emerges. Now we’re looking at players for both the game itself AND for the extra point. Sometimes they are the same player like Kavontae Turpin, or sometimes players excel at one aspect over the other.
While the stats themselves require some digging on the site, game recaps were implemented until week 4. They are still essential. Think of the stats as more situational, who excels at what aspect of the game. This makes them similar to basketball stats or (for any Moneyball fans) baseball. You can look at players who excel in certain places of the game and implement them, building a winning team by understanding their game. It’s a fascinating and challenging aspect of the FCF, which is why it draws so much appeal. The concern surrounding FCF is the previous failures of other leagues.
Unfortunately for Spring football fans, the public will bring up the XFL (2001 and 2020) or the AAF. While the new XFL folded due to Covid, their product was exciting, and they were doing well financially. People will instead bring up the spectacular internal collapse of the Alliance of American Football. Without digging too deep into it, the AAF essentially borrowed more money than they could make.
The Fan Controlled Football League is a much smaller scale, and while they did start during the pandemic, the viewership did show. Using a big-name player like Johnny Manziel, giving significant air time to Joe Montanna, Richard Sherman, Marshawn Lynch, and snagging NFL players like Josh Gordon helped boost their viewership. It also helps that, unlike the AAF, they aren’t a traditional football league. Their audience attracts gamers and football fans alike, which means they don’t need to hold themselves to the standards other alternate football leagues do. FCF streams on Twitch which gives the added benefits of being free. It also helps to have many big-name sponsors like Wendy’s and Progressive, selling merch and creating rewarding benefits to donations.
In summary, the Fan Controlled Football League isn’t going anywhere anytime soon. With two more teams confirmed, now is a good time to hop on board for Season 2.0. It’s an innovative cross between video games and football that also encourages player-fan interactions. It’s a lot of fun to root for players, call plays, and join a team’s community to bond and plan for the upcoming games. Go to their website to learn more and get involved!