It's a sad day for people who like to watch high-scoring, fast-paced 56-50 games of football played on a field radically smaller than 100 yards. Indeed, the Arena Football League -- a 22-year-old hodgepodge of teams in major markets -- is closing its doors today, filing bankruptcy and suspending its operations indefinitely, according to reports.
Why the bankruptcy? In short, the recession: AFL revenues dropped drastically in the fall of 2008, and while some league owners approved a new financial plan for the league, the vacancy left by AFL commissioner Jim Baker in 2008 created a gap in owner leadership. In the end, the 22 league owners were unable to approve a new financial plan for the league.
Throw in the AFL's convoluted ownership structures, and the 75 percent needed to approve anything was never going to happen. Instead: death.
What will the AFL's legacy be? Though we're not sure we ever cared about the AFL, it will be sad to see it go, not only for the occasional highlight packages -- look at the score, gosh that Arena League sure is ca-razy! -- but for the second chances the AFL offered discarded NFL players. Kurt Warner is the name that most obviously comes to mind. Where would Warner's career be without the AFL? And what about those who never even make it back to the NFL? Football is a trash compacter when it comes to talent, and very little survives. The AFL was a refuge for all those former college players who couldn't make it to the big show. It was, for better or worse, a place to play, and watch, some pretty good football.
We might not miss the Arena League. We have plenty of other sports to entertain us. But we are sad to see it go.
Eamonn Brennan is a Chicago-based writer, editor and blogger. You can also read him at Yahoo! Sports, Mouthpiece Sports Blog, and Inside The Hall, or at his personal site, eamonnbrennan.com. Follow him on Twitter.