AAF

The ivory dice landed on the stiff cardboard with an audible thud. My sister, realizing that her fate had been sealed, gave me an ice cold stare to contrast the smug grin on my face.

The tension in the room was palpable as she moved her token toward my hotel on Atlantic Avenue. My sister rose from her seat without a word, knowing that the move sealed her bankruptcy and allowed me to claim victory.

While our feud surrounding such a trivial game was short-lived, the Monopoly board has been known to place a strain on many relationships. No one enjoys maneuvering through the gauntlets of hotels that appear on the board later in the game, and not many people are fans of real-life monopolies either.

Monopolies seize control of the free market system and destroy beneficial competition along the way.

While the National Football League competes in a saturated global sports market with a myriad of viewing options, one might say the league has monopolized the professional American football market.

Many have tried to compete with the NFL, but none have been able to rival the prestige and following that the league has drawn from markets around the world.

As a result, the NFL and its current commissioner, Roger Goodell, have demonstrated abusive power and faced no repercussions. The league has bungled everything from player suspensions to its national anthem protocol and has levied controversial decisions after launching autonomous investigations into team misconduct and accusations of domestic violence.

Obviously, this list of grievances is limited and does not mention items like a certain missed call in a certain conference championship that ruined a certain team’s season and revealed a level of gross incompetence that is inappropriate for the caliber of football that the NFL claims to promote. But, I digress.

The truth is, the NFL probably doesn’t care about the short-term scrutiny it often faces because the league knows it’s the only game in town. If fans want to continue to enjoy professional football, they must accept the decisions of the NFL’s tyrannical office.

Goodell knows he has hotels from Pacific Avenue to Boardwalk, and the chances of fans “passing go” to collect $200 is slim to none.

Then, the Alliance of American Football was heroically formed. Founded in 2018, the league recently began play in 2019 and is comprised of eight teams divided into two conferences that will compete in a four-team playoff in April.

I already hear the grumbling. There’s no way the AAF will compete with the NFL in the long-run, right? Fans should just chalk this league up as another failed attempt to compete with the NFL.

While I don’t believe that the AAF will ever near the status of a rival that the NFL has to concern itself with, I am interested to see how the new league will shape the NFL.

A 30-second clip of San Antonio Commanders linebacker Shaan Washington delivering an unflagged, bone-crushing hit that knocked the helmet clean off of San Diego Fleet quarterback Mike Bercovici’s head has been circulating around the internet as a testament to the way real football should be played.

The AAF also advertises a bevy of other differences and rule changes like 60 percent fewer “full-screen” commercials than the NFL, no kickoffs, no extra points and a ninth official known as a sky judge who reviews every play and maintains the authority to call or take away penalties missed or made by the officials on the field.

I think I just became an AAF fan.

Though that statement may be a bit tongue-in-cheek, I’m certain that I won’t be the only curious football fan to start watching the AAF’s games this year.

Even if the AAF defies the odds and becomes a long-term football league, it will never be a direct rival to the NFL whose Super Bowl finishes one week before the start of the AAF’s regular season. However, it’s not out of the realm of possibility that the NFL will take notes from the AAF’s approach, especially if the league’s popularity begins to grow.

Successful implementations of certain AAF rules will have fans clamoring for similar rule changes in the NFL, thus bettering professional football as a whole and ultimately benefiting the fans.

That is, after all, how competition is intended to work. Consumers and fans need options in order to maintain their position of control, and if Goodell finally starts to give the consumers what they want, maybe they’ll all stop hoping the commissioner picks up a “go to jail” card.

I wouldn’t hold my breath, though.

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