Giving Arena Football A Chance
Since it’s inception over twenty years ago, the Arena Football League has survived criticism from a great number of football fans. The most common negative remark made referring to the Arena Football League is that it’s “not real football”. The problem with this statement is that the person thinking this is under the assumption that Arena Football is trying to be like the NFL, it is a whole different game.
The Arena Football League has had it’s growing pains, years of poor performance and teams folding, but has lived through it’s toddler and teenage years and is now a young adult ready to take on the world. First, it is possible to be both a fan of the NFL and of Arena Football, just don’t think of them as the same product. Arena Football may not be as technically complex or as filled with tactical decision making as the NFL, but the arena league is filled with just as many hard hits and is at times incredibly more action packed.
In the Arena Football League, much like the Canadian Football League, one player is allowed to be in motion and moving towards the line of scrimmage. This part of the game, essentially allowing one player to be at full speed the minute the ball is snapped, alters how the defense plays. It also allows for monster collisions when a receiver at full speed comes across the middle in front of a hungry linebacker waiting to make a play. Another key difference that adds to the game is the walls that line the field. There is nothing quite like a running back or wide receiver turning the corner to head up field but instead getting smacked into the stationary wall. The shortness of the field also lends to the game’s excitement. Scoring opportunities, both for the offense and the defense, are more plentiful on a shorter field. The nets hanging beside the goal posts also offer a nice chance for more exciting plays as kickoffs and missed field goals that are deflected by the nets are live balls and can be returned by the receiving team.
While the Arena Football League doesn’t possess the talent that the NFL has, although it has contributed a number of players to NFL rosters, a unique thing has happened in arena football due to it having been around for over twenty years now. In its early days, arena league teams sought out players with NFL experience. While they still do that to a certain extent, teams in the Arena Football League now also look for the types of players who may not be an NFL-type player, but are built specifically for the arena football game. This means more players in the league are there because they have the skills needed to excel in this specific type of football game.
So, for those out there that complain that the Arena Football League is not “real football”, if your definition of real football is the NFL then you’re right… but the Arena Football League can be very exciting just the same.