Thursday, July 16, 2009

Are you ready for even more football? UFL and Lingerie Football League set to debut this fall

There’s no shortage of professional sports leagues, including upstarts that hope one day to be as successful as the top four leagues in the U.S.: MLB, NFL, NBA and NHL.
This fall, we’ll see the start of a rival to the National Football League called the United Football League. This fall also will bring to life every man’s fantasy, the Lingerie Football League, where beautiful, busty women in lingerie have a pillow fight … er, play football.
I’m fascinated by what it takes for a sport to go from nothing to a big deal with the American public. Why do some pro sports attract legions of fans and exhaustive media coverage, while others do not? At what point do people decide they’d like to plunk down real money to watch a game in person?
Earlier I speculated on some of the factors behind a pro sport breaking into the big time. Those factors include superstar players who give the sport a face, some personality and a human interest story. Television coverage is another critical factor. And of course, amazing athleticism is vital too.
But then there are the X-factors, those intangibles that are hard to gauge. Those intangibles helped push pro beach volleyball and the X Games onto the main stage.
In Chicago, we have Major League Baseball’s Chicago Cubs and Chicago White Sox, the NFL’s Chicago Bears, the National Basketball Association’s Chicago Bulls and the National Hockey League’s Chicago Blackhawks.
But wait there’s more.
Move down the food chain a level and you’ll find a host of young pro sports teams and leagues hoping to make it big. We have soccer (Chicago Fire of Major League Soccer and the Chicago Red Stars of Women’s Professional Soccer). We have lacrosse (Chicago Machine of Major League Lacrosse), more hockey (Chicago Wolves of the American Hockey League), indoor football (Chicago Slaughter) and even women’s roller derby (the Windy City Rollers). There’s also minor league and independent league baseball in the Chicagoland area.
Many sports teams and leagues have come and gone in recent years, including the Chicago Storm soccer and Chicago Shamrox lacrosse teams. The Chicago Rush of the Arena Football League was out for the 2009 season, but the AFL is trying to return in 2010.
With that as a backdrop, the UFL and LFL hope to make a go of it.
The United Football League plans to begin its premiere season in October and conclude with a championship game in Las Vegas over Thanksgiving weekend.
The Lingerie Football League kicks off Sept. 4 at the Sears Center in Hoffman Estates, Ill., with the Chicago Bliss vs. Miami Caliente.
In the current economic climate, they'll need a lot of luck.

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