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Sports junkies lose great sport in AFL

POSTED August 7, 2009 11:01 p.m.
The Arena Football League is dead.
At least for the most part. That’s what a number of reports are saying about perhaps one of the most high-energy sporting spectacles ever, which can best be described as an indoor version of the NFL but with players who have a lot more to prove and not much to lose.
The league is suspended indefinitely, officials announced earlier this week. It could also face a Chapter 7 bankruptcy liquidation.
Too bad.
The AFL was like an amped up NFL, as if it was loaded with Red Bull. It had a hockey element, as receivers were occasionally smashed into the glass wall. It had, of course, elements of football — though the field was only half of the NFL length and a winner truly wasn’t determined until the final seconds.
And it had an element of basketball, as the final score went up as high as the 60s and 70s.
But what now?
Not a lot of other leagues can match up to the adrenaline the AFL produced. Not the NBA, the NFL, and certainly not the MLB. That’s not to say those leagues are boring. They’re very exciting, in fact. It’s just that ... let me try to explain.
Did you ever go to an AFL game?
Back when it was alive and pumping, there weren’t many options. The closest AFL location was in San Jose, where the SaberCats played. It was good family entertainment, if you like nonstop action for three or four straight hours.
I had a chance to cover the Utah Blaze in my previous job. It sort of reminded me of pro-wrestling, where it was cool to see people get smashed up. Of course, you didn’t want any of the low-paid players — in some cases, they had to have another gig — to get hurt, but it was exciting to see bodies fly. It was also exciting to see that nothing was guaranteed.
I remember one game in which the Blaze were up by a couple of touchdowns with a couple of minutes left. In the NFL, that was enough for fans to start leaving the building in order to beat the traffic madness outside. Not here, not in the AFL. It was impossible to think there was a winner with just a couple minutes to go.
And guess what?
The other team — the Dallas Desperados — did come back and win with a number of successful air attacks. A local TV reporter approached the winning quarterback to ask him a few questions, including his thoughts on the late-game surge. Even then, not everyone understood the AFL.
The quarterback explained that nothing in the league is ever certain. He meant nothing, and that was why his team was able to win.
There’s a chance the league might bounce back, but many officials say that it is very unlikely. It’s too bad because the AFL, which was founded in 1987, is hard to replace with its unpredictability and one-of-a-kind atmosphere.
I guess it’s time for us to find something more exciting.
To contact Chhun Sun, e-mail csun@turlockjournal.com or call 634-9141 ext. 2041.
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