This American women’s tackle football league has taken on many forms since its inception in 2009. Gradually, it shifted from the Lingerie Football League into the Legends Football League – which still featured equipment reminiscent of the original competition. Still, following the 2019 Legends Football League season, another rebranding effort got underway.
Having landed over $30 million in Series A funding and several streaming partnerships, per SportsBusinessJournal.com, ownership could pivot to a branding that placed more of an emphasis on the sport at hand, thus becoming the Extreme Football League or “X League.” Due to global delays, the new competition didn’t launch until 2023, with the offseason beginning in January and play commencing on June 10.
With the X Cup in the books after a hard-hitting, but rather short, season, president Mitchell Mortaza has announced his plans for the work needed before next season. The part of his long to-do list that will have captured the imaginations of many fans will be the potential for expansion and further development. As the first season was a success by many measures, it makes sense that Mortaza seeks to grow the X League further.
Chicago Blitz takes the X League’s inaugural X Cup
The first X League season kicked off with a back-and-forth rumble between the Chicago Blitz and Kansas City Force, showing exactly how explosive and entertaining the sport can be. With only a few minutes left in the fourth quarter, Lauran Ziegler tied the score at 34-34, but an absolute last-second carry from Stephanie Raymond landed the Blitz the win.
In the following weeks, with each team playing three games in the regular season, many high-powered games were put on show. The Seattle Thunder quashed the Denver Rush by a massive 84-26 scoreline in the first round of games, and the Atlanta Empire managed to shut out the Rush completely in the second set. Perhaps most fitting was the final games from the eventual finalists.
Both undefeated at 2-0-0, the Atlanta Empire and Chicago Blitz only escaped their finals games by two and one-point victories, respectively. The Blitz scored extremely late and nailed the PAT, courtesy of Raymond, to win 34-33, while the Empire went ahead 34-32 with just under three minutes left against the Austin Sound, needing to give everything to hold on to the narrow lead.
X Cup 2023 staged a fitting final between two dominant teams that had proven to not just have the ability to blow teams out of the water, but also have the character to win close games. In the final, Chicago took a commanding 19-6 lead early in the fourth quarter, and while Atlanta was able to battle back to 19-12, it wasn’t enough. For Chicago, once again, Raymond ran the show.
For the fans, there were plenty of avenues for engagement. Most intriguing away from the usual modern methods was the MultiCast game presentation, which gives viewers a choice of 24 camera angles to watch the game through, allowing for a huge amount of viewer autonomy, per SportTechie.com. Elsewhere, the X League currently boasts 1.4 million Facebook followers, 45,000 followers on Twitter, and 180,000 on Instagram.
An initial look at the X League’s YouTube channel would also signal a huge following, but video viewership isn’t as high as one would hope. On the channel, there are 304,000 listed subscribers. However, the most-viewed video – a fan poll for the best RB in 2023 – only has 48,000 views. Most of the most-viewed videos are for the announcement of the competition and the planned 2023 season, which had to be delayed.
Plans for expanding the X League to new heights
As is a favorite pastime of major leagues in North America, expansion to new markets and more customers are, naturally, on the mind of the league’s president. In his State of the League 2023 address, it was stated by Mortaza that the season for the front office has now begun. He says that they’ll be working to broaden the X League’s international reach, deliver more engaging products in betting and fantasy, and explore expansion.
Over the years, the LFL has gone beyond the US, but now, as a single entity, the X League should look to rekindle its association with Canada. Aligning with the additional gambling avenues focus, Canada is loaded with highly rated online casinos. In fact, the top online casinos for Canadian players shown by Gambling.com are licensed and regulated by leading governing bodies and offer hefty bonuses of matched deposit bonus funds and free spins.
Just like in soccer in Europe, this could open up lucrative sponsorship deals for the X League and its Canadian team. As it would look to open the competition to a whole new country rather than just a new state, expanding north makes sense – and is why major leagues always do so. Perhaps the BC Angels, Regina Rage, Saskatoon Sirens, or Toronto Triumph can be resurrected after their 2012 LFL showing.
If not a new team, expansion can still be achieved by simply expanding the schedule. Three games is a very small sample and were even fewer than the four-game campaign of the 2019 LFL. That final LFL season even had a two-game playoff tree, which saw the undefeated Austin Acoustic bow out in the semi-finals. Letting the athletes compete in a long, more trying season would only enhance the product on the field.
The 2023 X League did well to bring back this form of women’s football, but Mortaza is right to be looking to bring in more ways to make it better and expand in time for 2023.