Pick your tribe, any tribe ….

“RAIDERS NATION” is the model for the imaginary Affinity Football League (Wikipedia).

In my last column, I made some suggestions about how to modernize and enliven professional sports, and saved the best idea – and probably the strangest – for last.

I’m not going to suggest that the NFL is in any trouble; my idea is that there’s room for another fall football league that takes a whole ‘nother approach to creating a fan base. 

Think for a moment about the Las Vegas Raiders. They have cultivated such a rough-and-tumble bad boy image that their frequent moves – Oakland to L.A., back to Oakland, then off to Sin city – hasn’t dimmed their popularity. Locality became secondary to attitude. If you wanted to project an image as a tough-guy vato, you wore the cap with the crossed swords and the eyepatch.

Considering the inescapable fact that the Big Money in sports is on TV revenue rather than Cracker Jacks, and add in the relatively successful “bubble” experiments during the pandemic, the next step is … the Affinity Football League.

Six teams oriented not toward a home city – although they could have a favorite stadium – but a slice of society with a common ethnic, political, entertainment interest. Social scientists are currently hot on the theme of the “tribes” of America.

Imagine a game between the Silicon Valley Techies and the Alabama  Good ‘ol Boys?  Better yet, a struggle between the Midwest Working Men and the Northeast Donkeys. 

Forget six teams; we are divided enough to create a whole network of franchises based on the like-minded. And to duplicate the importance of the closing part of an election campaign, change the game from four quarters to three periods and have the “break” after the second. 

And taking a tip from TV game shows with bonus play and lightning rounds, let’s make scores in the third period worth double, making dramatic and emotional comebacks more possible, if not common.

I’m not saying this is going to eclipse regular football, but, honestly, who wouldn’t want to watch a game between the Jersey Made Men and D.C. Feds? 

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