The XFL is going to turn 15 early next year. Amazingly, this site is still live, and much ironic fun is to be had. In retrospect, the WWE guys misunderstood football, and football fandom. They figured that football was about the kind of exaggerated machismo that powered stuff like The Man Show, upping the raunch and ditching all those “sissy” rules (that make the game more competitive and exciting). In reality, sports fans tend to be extraordinarily invested in the illusion of childlike innocence of sports, and what sexuality there is has to be done in a way that is pre-sexual, like the Dallas Cowboys cheerleaders or the Sports Illustrated swimsuit edition. Sports media and commentators present a powerful fantasy of continuity between a supposed innocent, golden age and our corrupt, inadequate present. Of course, if you read Garry Wills’s book about Ronald Reagan, Reagan during his sportscasting days in the ’30s was complaining about how they didn’t make stars like they used to. They’ve never stopped saying shit like that. But you can see how these attitudes would be like antimatter when combined with the sorts of values that professional wrestling operates on.

I did a little research and it seems that no taxpayer-funded stadiums were built for the league, which is unsurprising considering that the league came from nowhere and had zero cred, but still makes it one of the least predatory sports leagues in history. Mostly they used unused stadiums like the L.A. Colosseum. I’m frankly amazed, however, that the San Francisco team was actually allowed to use Pac Bell Park, as it was then called.

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