Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Sad to See AFL Go

AFL spokesman: Demise appears 'inevitable'

I got my start in the sports industry with the New York Dragons of the Arena Football League. I saw it as a way to work my way up to a position with the Islanders and for me it worked. Along my journey with the AFL, I made many friends and memories along with way.

The AFL had something good going, but in my estimation their failure was their own fault.

The NFL, NHL, MLB and NBA took decades to grow into the national and continent-wide powerhouses they are now. The AFL wanted to do that in 20 years. They wanted to rush their growth and the league thought of themselves as equals to the big-four North American leagues.

It seemed that when Kurt Warner jumped from the AFL to NFL Super Bowl MVP that the Arena League gained respect. At that moment, the League and its football operations department started to think of themselves as equals to the giant of the National Football League. And from that moment they began to throw away their milk before it spoiled.

Instead of continuing to embrace their small-market success, they jumped ahead of the curve to try to find big-market success. Along the way they gained some notoriety, but in the end bite off more then they could chew. They forgot about what they had in exchange for trying to find something more popular.

The moral of the AFL’s story is that growth takes times. The NFL did not become the NFL overnight and the fall downward comes a lot faster then the climb.

The NHL can learn from the AFL’s failure. There is still plenty of growth ahead for the NHL and they mustn’t rush it. Let success happen and if it takes time, so be it. Rushing to success often leads to failure in the end.

And while we think of the AFL’s demise, ask the Arena League how ESPN helped them? Even ESPN doesn’t bring automatic success.

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