Vince McMahon, the chairman of World Wrestling Entertainment, has announced the return of the XFL, a professional football league attempting to capitalize on the decline of the NFL.
— WWE (@WWE) January 25, 2018
Promising to give the game “back to fans,” McMahon said the new league would begin operations in 2020. No specific franchises or cities have been identified.
But the league is already garnering a hostile reaction from journalists, many of whom are eager to protect the NFL and its practice of coddling anti-police protests by players and providing generous donations to far-left foundations.
Conor Orr at Sports Illustrated scoffed that the XFL would be “Alternative Football,” characterizing it as “a league that gives us the option of reinforcing our own beliefs and insulating ourselves from the way other people see the world.”
He blamed Trump for “filter[ing] out a definable market” by criticizing Colin Kaepernick’s crusade against the national anthem.
But as Orr implicitly admits, that market is real. Hundreds of thousands of football fans have pledged to boycott the NFL because of the league’s policy regarding the national anthem.
And the boycott seems to be impacting the NFL’s bottom line. The NFL’s ratings have suffered a serious decline and advertisers are beginning to pull out, believing the NFL is no longer worth the investment. The league is also contending with embarrassing visuals of empty seats, as attendance is declining despite reduced ticket prices.
McMahon made a subtle appeal to that audience when he suggested all players would be required to stand for the national anthem.
“People don’t want social and political issues coming into play when they are trying to be entertained,” McMahon said in an interview with ESPN. “We want someone who wants to take a knee to do their version of that on their personal time.”
McMahon also suggested players who had committed criminal acts, “even a DUI,” would not be allowed to play in the league.
The combination of requiring respect for the national anthem and the refusal to allow criminals to play led to many people blasting the returned XFL as “racist” on Twitter.
Vince McMahon’s reborn XFL is basically an angry white racist’s dream of what American football should be – treating the players with the attitude of a plantation owner. Stand up straight, shut your mouth and consider yourself lucky to be here.
— Josh Gardner (@joshgardner) January 25, 2018
The XFL is racist because its founder specifically said that he will prevent players from participating in protests, as a direct reference to @Kaepernick7 taking a knee. Dude’s just trying to appeal to the mouthbreathers still flying a confederate flag
— Elie Challita (@eliec76) January 25, 2018
I was a big fan of the WWE. That ends now. Your racist attitude towards PoC exercising their 1st Amend right is deplorable. You’ve lost my respect & patronage. I will NEVER watch the XFL or WWE.
McMahon: Gimmick-free XFL to return in 2020 https://t.co/mnGzMSdGvE
— HRPuckinfutz (Vote 🌊 Nov 6, 2018) (@HRPuckinfutz) January 25, 2018
ESPN’s Michael Wilbon also complained the league was “whitewashed” and “garbage.”
“The game is going to end in two hours, you can’t have a criminal record, you can’t have any rebels because you’re all going to salute the flag,” he moaned. “I don’t believe in people like this.”
But one person who may “believe in people like this” is President Trump. Vince McMahon’s wife, Linda, serves as head of the Small Business Administration for Trump. And Vince McMahon and Trump are friends, dating back to Trump’s prior appearances on WWE, with the McMahon family even visiting the White House in February.
From the McMahon family’s visit at the White House: pic.twitter.com/yphWCF0SFc
— Wrestling Observer (@WONF4W) February 15, 2017
Trump, a member of the WWE Hall of Fame, has reportedly said he learned a great deal about how to work a crowd from his time with Vince McMahon.