For the past 50 years, every attempt to start a new professional football league has faced the same problem. Though football is far and away America’s most popular sport, there is simply no evidence that enough people want to spend enough time watching a minor-league version to make it financially viable over the long-term.
That’s why it was curious Tuesday when the startup Alliance of American Football announced that billionaire entrepreneur and Carolina Hurricanes owner Tom Dundon laid down $250 million to become the league’s chairman amid reports it was already in danger of running out of money after just two weeks of play.
Dundon’s emergency bailout of the league, which nearly missed its first week’s payroll according to Darren Rovell of the Action Network, comes with a pretty important question: What, exactly, is he getting for his $250 million?
Far be it from anyone to tell Dundon how to spend his money, but this seems like buying at the top of the market for the notion that America doesn’t have enough football when, in fact, there’s a lot of evidence that the amount we get from August through the first week in February is exactly right.
Isn’t a huge part of what makes the NFL and the top-level of college football so popular, and so valuable, is its scarcity? For a good five months, a significant chunk of America invests three or four hours (and often considerably more) every weekend watching football.
Then the season ends, allowing anticipation to build to the point where there’s genuine excitement when it returns. The ability to miss football, which you don’t get as much during a nine-month NBA season or baseball's never-ending slog, is actually a great luxury for its fans.
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