One of the nice surprises of this summer’s sportscape has been the Premier Lacrosse League, which hit the field the first of June and will wrap up its inaugural season September 21.
If you like top-tier lacrosse the PLL has provided it, thanks to some of the best players in the world. I’ve enjoyed the handful of matches I’ve watched.
But, frankly, if you’re a legitimate fan of lacrosse you probably know more about the stats and stars than I do. Instead, I’m intrigued by the structural setup of the league and how its template might apply to football because – as you know – I’m almost always thinking about football-related gimmicks.
Founded by lacrosse superstar Paul Rabil and his brother, Mike, the PLL a touring, tournament-style circuit. However, the teams don’t represent cities and the players are free to market themselves however they choose.
This year the PLL features clubs named Archers, Atlas, Chaos, Chrome, Redwoods and Whipsnakes. There is no state or regional identity; basically, you either cheer for a team stocked with players you like or you root for a uniform.
I wound up getting behind Chrome because, well, I sent out a random tweet asking who I should follow, and Chrome was the only team to respond.
This touched me, so I now feel a sense of loyalty to them.
The schedule features 14 stops in major cities, and the events have been styled as weekend “festivals” with contests spread out over a couple of days.
There are clinics, activities and plenty of fan interaction to frame the actual games, making it about more than just the competition.
The crowds have been good and the games, which are telecast primarily on NBCSN, have given the league excellent exposure.
So here’s my idea; since people can’t seem to stop creating alternative pro football leagues, why not create one in the image of the PLL?
The obvious name would be the Premier Football League, but since there’s already the Premier League (which, cleverly enough, plays a brand of football in which feet play a significant role), we’ll go with another name.
Let’s call it the Premier Gridiron League.
My plan would feature eight teams, and for the purposes of this column we’ll call them the Chupacabras, Tasmanian Devils, Zombies, Sales Associates, Werewolves, Entrails, Telemarketers and Chiropractors.
(My favorite team would be the Werewolves because lycanthropy is of great interest to me.)
As is the case with the PLL, players in the PGL will be drafted and divvied up among the teams in an effort to create parity.
Of course asking fans to watch a doubleheader on Saturday and another on Sunday is a bit much, so we’ll break from the PLL in that we’ll have two separate sites during a tour weekend.
For example, Birmingham might host the Chupacabras vs. Tasmanian Devils on Saturday, March 7 and Zombies vs. Sales Associates on March 8, while Orlando would feature the Werewolves vs. Entrails on March 7 and follow with the Telemarketers vs. the Chiropractors on the following day.
The PGL regular season would run 14 weekends at a total of 28 different sites, with each team playing the other twice. The postseason would consist of two semi-finals and a championship game with the matchups taking place in the cities that drew the biggest crowds during the tour. It’s a way to reward the fans who showed the most interest in the product.
It all sounds cool, doesn’t it? (Why yes, Scott, it does).
I wonder, though, if perhaps it’s just a bit too innovative.
I think the touring model was a great idea for the first season of PLL, and having a team you can call your own no matter where you live is unique. But it seems like at some point fans in lacrosse hotbeds are going to want a club to put down roots – one they can see several times at home during the course of a season instead of just once a year.
Then again, maybe that’s what this season has been all about.
Identify which cities want the PLL the most, and then gradually migrate franchises there.
Pro lacrosse is largely working with a blank canvas. Yes, there are other leagues, but the PLL is the first to offer living wages, health insurance and ownership options for its players. Done right, it could be the gold standard for the sport going forward.
And while I like the thought of applying this model to my league, there are some major issues to work through.
First, football is already pretty well established. It needs no grand introduction.
And with the best professional players already making millions of dollars in the NFL, it would take many more millions to convince them to jump ship.
Anyway, it was just something I thought I’d throw out because I like throwing things. And if you’re an eccentric billionaire interested in funding my venture and luring away the NFL’s top stars with your endless fountain of cash, I’ll be happy to talk with you at your earliest convenience.
Thanks, and “Go Werewolves!”