Sunday, July 9, 2017

Welcome to The Suck

Greetings keyboard tough guys and meme warriors.  This is most definitely not the blog I wanted to write today.  Truth be told I didn't want to have to write today at all.  But, for those of you who've followed my log form long enough know that this space is for me to spew MY verbal diarrhea and express MY thoughts, feelings and opinions about indoor football, with a strong and critical towards the Sioux Falls Storm.  It's my therapy. You can comment and tell me how wrong I am, I take no offence.  I suck, I know it, I'm a bad fan.  I know.  It's still cheaper than therapy.

Last night was what it was. A valiant fight by the players on the field to even get back in the game.  Now, the play and decision making up the middle of the offense and from the head coach left a lot to be desired on multiple occasions.  There's just no way you can expect to win any football game, especially a championship game with FIVE total yards of offense and NO offensive touchdowns in an ENTIRE half.  That was a failure of execution which cannot be excused.

The less than expected first half effort was all but forgotten by the end of the third quarter with Sioux Falls trailing by six points.  Next came either the arrogance of a coach who doesn't know his squad had been outclassed on and off (more on that later) the field for the better part of two hours.  Going for it on 4th down inside your own ten yard line makes very little tactical sense.  But I've see coach Riggs lose faith in a kicker before and this is the typical aftermath.  That sucks.

Now is the time where if you have small children or large farm animals reading this you may want to make them stop.  Sioux Falls fans, and the IFL. You and we suck.  Terrible, arrogant, ignorant and plain old fucking stupid.  If I have to hear one more fucking story about fans acting like idiots I'm going to fucking scream.  That's NOT the way you treat people who come over to your place for a game.  Act like a fucking grown fucking person.  Now, Storm fans are not the only fucking assholes i'm speaking to.  I'm sure the fuck sticks know who they are.  How's about you fucking watch the fucking game, cheer for a team, I don't care if it's ours or not.  DO NOT fucking say stupid rude shit to other fans, DO not use obscene hand gestures, and please for the love whatever deity you pray to, do not allow yourself to get over-served and assault someone verbally, physically, or vehicularly.  If you think i'm talking to you please feel free to stop over to the next tailgate, if there is a next year, and we can discuss our behavior like adults, or I can punch you in the fucking face, it's up to you.  You suck.

IFL, you suck... Not only has the veteran rule watered down the talent pool, and made the play in the league overall sloppy and hard to watch.  Not only have you resorted to running game clocks to shorten games instead of making the game more friendly for the fans in the stands.  ZERO need for more than one media timeout a half unless the game is ACTUALLY being televised.  Don't allow teams like Sioux Falls to have kickoff 20-30 minutes late, don't let them have 20 or 30 minute halftimes.  Hire competent officials who can spot a fucking football.  Seriously NCAA division II football games have the same 4 15 minute quarters and don't take three and a half hours.  Cut out all of the on field bullshit and give us our fucking football back.  You Suck

You also completely failed on a giant level at the United Bowl.  It actually hadn't really ever occurred to me, but observing and listening some of the Arizona fans that tailgated with us it began to sink in just how low rent and minor league the IFL still is.  Granted it sure feels like the most polished league Sioux Falls has ever played in, but when the Rattler fans were very rightfully complaining about the complete lack of ANY United Bowl swag.  No T-Shirts, no patches, no towels, nothing.  This may be a Sioux Falls issue since they hosted, but I've seen game tshirts on-sale before.  I recall some Lexington Vs Sioux Falls United Bowl towels, or tshirts, maybe both.  You had two weeks to get some swag ready for purchase, and you didn't do it, so to whoever didn't get on that, you suck.

Speaking of all of the great folks that stopped by and chatted with my crew at the tailgate, thank you so much.  It was fun in interact with another group of crazy people, but my utmost and deepest respect to the retired couple who DROVE from Phoenix to Sioux Falls to follow a team she's been watching since 1993.  THAT is what the teams at this level should be building as a fan base...  Those that don't, or can't... you suck

The reality of indoor football is that the bottom line is ALWAYS the bottom line.  Teams like Wichita Falls who has to overcome systemic local apathy and Cedar Rapids whose ownership flat out gave up and mailed the season in doing ONLY the bare minimum (if even that, if rumors of unpaid player are true) to field a team.  Salt Lake and Colorado are dead.  Wichita Falls has extremely strong rumors that no one is denying about moving to the CIF, which if we're honest has made more since for them since their creation.  Less strong rumors of two more IFL teams leaving to the CIF.  Cedar Rapids is not one of them, but I'll be shocked if their ownership group cares any more.  I'm going to count them as folded until proven otherwise.  That's SIXTY percent of your league, gone.

What we're probably left with is Spokane, Arizona, Sioux Falls, and probably Iowa.  Even if you added teams out of the extremely softly rumored expansion in Portland and Boise, that leaves a horrible footprint that is a nightmare travel budget.  Attendance in Spokane has plummeted since they left the AFL and the ownership stopped spending the extra "legal" money to take care of their players off the field.  Nader Naini has already set the stage for their folding as of last season when he told the Spokane Spokesman in May of 2016 "“My partners and I have made a commitment to this,” he said. “If the community tells us it’s not interested in this asset, we’re not crazy. We’re going to want to see those numbers rise.” Given the complete on field collapse in the last half of 2017, it wouldn't shock me one bit if they cashed out.  That sucks

Three teams does not a league make.  Arizona would be smart to play a wait and see attitude with regards to what the Arena Football League can come up with as far as thoughtful expansion. That leaves Iowa who could probably get accepted to the CIF in this plausible scenario.  That leaves the ending of indoor football in Sioux Falls exactly as many have predicted.  The best team and organization to ever play without rebound nets too good and spends too much money and has too much arrogance to be accepted to the low budget CIF.  

So, as always at this time of year I hope I'm wrong with regards to the league moves, but I think we've all seen this coming from a mile away.  At least this time we can get on with the honesty that travel and budgets and NOT Sioux Falls winning all the time is the REAL reason the CIF exists. And frankly.. that sucks.

Sunday, October 30, 2016

Haven't I Seen All of This Before?

It's Sunday and since I'm bored, thought I'd cruise over to that infamous nethead forum.  Seems they're opining that Arizona won't be able to keep the Rattlers name.    Oddly, several pretty well informed responses saying "maybe", and of course the even more persistent and adamant, yet lacking any documentation or proof saying "no this new AFL is the sh*t and will stick it to Arizona for leaving"... As we've seen from Green Bay, Iowa, and Spokane.. moving to the IFL from the AF(whatever) is a dagger in the heart of attendance.  However a four team AFL isn't being well received based on the leagues Facebook page.  Lots of "where's my refund" and "this league is a joke" posts.  I'm interested to see how the fans in Arizona will receive the IFL product.  One things for sure, if they don't drop their prices from their AFL price points, there's going to be a lot of empty seats.

Speaking of Arizona.. in case you've been under a rock, the first revision of the 2017 schedule is out.  Baring any 2016 style collapses this should also be the final version, but this is indoor football after all. The marque matchup in week 1 is Arizona at Sioux Falls.  The league got the game right, but really this game should have been in Arizona to give the fans the best game possible to help build up fan interest and confidence.  But as bad as arena availability is in Sioux Falls, it looks to be even worse in Arizona, so I'm guessing they just couldn't get thing done.  A shame.  

Speaking of Shame.. Seriously.. Whiskey Tango Foxtrot is up with the arena, or the ownership in Salt Lake?  The Screaming Eagles play ZERO Saturday home games, and only play a handful of Saturday games at all.  I applaud Project French Fries for saving the Colorado Ice Crush, but multiple ownership rarely works out.  

Something occurred to me while I was vacuuming the other day.  This fan run team really isn't that new of an idea. I mean, I've seen this all before.  It's been going on for decades in college as the boosters have a lot of say in how the teams are made up and run.   But this is allegedly different, or so it would seem.  I browsed on over to the Salt Lake page looking for a schedule and I stumbled upon the "Join the Front Office" button.. (Direct Link And, after I got over the fact these scheisters are using an image from a Sioux City Bandits versus Omaha Beef game in the CIF, or perhaps the CPIFL that i'm betting they didn't pay the photographer for... You can sign up and PAY to be an assistant GM for $40 a month.  $10 a month to be a "scout".. Huh!?!?! Is anyone ACTUALLY going to do something so stupid? I mean really? At least at a strip club $10 will get me some lady parts in my face.  So, on one hand I guess they're being transparent that you have to pay to have your "fan" vote actually matter, but on the other hand... man this just seems like a futile effort.  I'm not even sure Sioux Falls perhaps the most marketable franchise in the league with the biggest and most passionate fan base could even sell these things.  So stupid... I can't even.. 

The rest of the IFL schedule, from the eyes of this Storm fan... is pretty boring.  56% of our games are against three teams.  Iowa, Green Bay and Wichita Falls.  We don't go to Arizona, nor Spokane though we host both teams, and we don't play Salt Lake at all.  Guess we'll have to wait until next season to see them play if they're even around.   Financially it's a pretty sweet travel schedule so maybe we can afford some halftime entertainment to fill up those 30 minute halftime breaks we have.  Maybe something cool like 2 kids racing RC monster trucks.. or my personal favorite 11 minutes of nothing.  For the record, the league standard is 20 (per 4.2.D in the rule book) "unless otherwise approved by the League Office"

Well, that's it for now kids... enjoy the rest of silly season..

Saturday, July 2, 2016

Another Turning Point at The Fork Stuck in The Road

*Please Note*

The opinions, beliefs and viewpoints expressed herein by the the author are the author's own and do not reflect the opinions, beliefs and viewpoints of the Sioux Falls Storm or the Indoor Football League, nor do they reflect official policies of the Sioux Falls Storm or the Indoor Football League.


There’s a scene in the movie Titanic where the orchestra meets on the deck of the ship and the lone violin player begins playing “Nearer My God to Thee”.  The IFL, if we as their consumers are honest with ourselves is indeed a sinking ship.  The Tri-Cities Fever announced they’re “going dormant” aka folding like a cheap tent under the load of a beer fart.  I mean, I've spouted off in this blog for YEARS saying they were going to, or should have folded.  They had to be hemorrhaging cash for YEARS due to what had to be an astronomic travel budget.  But it finally happened.  I’m actually kind of surprised the IFL didn’t elect Teri Carr to the Hall-Of-Fame just to have her fold her team a week later.  It’s not like the league hasn’t ever done something similar.  *COUGH*

Speaking of the Hall Of Fame.. finally, and I mean FINALLY they elected a defensive player.  It’s about damn time.  Mark Blackburn got elected, and while he only played 2 seasons of IFL ball, his contributions to the sport, and specifically to the Sioux Falls Storm cannot be overstated.  Every hyperbole imaginable is true about the energy and skillset which he played the game.  Should Sioux Falls host the United Bowl.. the audio crew has best dust off “Here I Go” by Mystical.

Moving on. So yeah, back on track here.  Tri-Cities is out.  Spokane is drawing half, to a third of what it used to in the AFL.  It’s numbers like those and travel budgets like what awaits them should they return in 2017 that make staying in the IFL, and staying in business at all a rather asinine decision.  Colorado is for sale, and it’s a foolish investment in an election year, let's be honest.  Attendance looks like the lowest it’s ever been in Cedar Rapids and Des Moines. I feel the future of these two franchises are tied together.  They’re geographically compatible with the CIF, and have developed a bit of a rivalry, plus they share some of the same fans, which is nice.   Attendance is, allegedly, “good” in Des Moines, but the numbers I get shown don’t line up with the video I’ve watched.. So… maybe this is 2005 again af far as lying to us by giving us “attendance” figured that in reality are the number of tickets, sold, given away, and dumped in the trash bin outside B&B grocery.

Attendance in Billings has been abysmal this season, same for the butts in seats I’ve seen in Wichita Falls, they’re in the same boat.  If Vegas had betting lines on such things, the odds of these two teams returning to the IFL are long.. Real long.

That puts Spokane way, WAY out on the old Tri-Cities island, like I mentioned. Their future may hinge on the IFL’s ability or inability to land a team in the soon to be vacant AFL wasteland of Portland.  Much like anything in indoor football, don’t hold your breath.  The “FANChise” in Salt Lake City is also in a geographic no man's land should Billings and Colorado fold.  The biographies of these businessmen tell me they know a sinking ship when they see one, and will probably gracefully exit.  What am I talking about, this is indoor football, there is no such thing as graceful.  They’ll just turn off the lights and walk away, after cashing the “check” for their crowdfunded gimmicky fan control system, to be sure. #Profit

So, the next stop in my doom and gloom world tour takes us to Nebraska.  Losing Jameel Sewell to the CFL, and later injury, doomed their season early and the fans disappeared.  I’d like to believe the Bosselman’s want their club to compete at the highest level, but having a team 2 hours down the road in Omaha and 3.5 to Sioux City would certainly be appealing.  It makes sense, so it probably won’t happen, though.
To Recap:
Billings: Probably el foldo if they don’t get sold or find investors
Cedar Rapids: to the CIF
Colorado: Fold, have been for sale all season with no buyers interested
Green Bay: Probably go wherever Cedar Rapids and Iowa go, but an equal chance of folding.
Iowa: to the CIF
Nebraska: CIF
Salt Lake: Island Time
Spokane: Island Time…
Tri-CIties: Folded, already official
Wichita Falls: to the CIF, attendance and geographically it makes way more sense.

OH, you’ve noticed I missed a team.. This is 2016.  We no longer strive to emulate the best in the business, there’s no such thing as taking your lumps and working your way up.  Everyone should get an equal shot at the prize and everyone gets a participation ribbon and a juice box.

Again, this is just one guy talking out of his fingers… So, take nothing I say here as any indication that I actually know anything.  I see what I see, then I come here and bitch about it.  Deal with it.

Thankfully we’ve got the FREAKING PLAYOFFS to distract us from the onset of what could be the silliest silly season in 12 years coming up… here’s my take.

A travel weary and mentally abused Nebraska team travels to Billings for a game against a red hot, and very hungry Wolves team.  While is should be a close game, I’m thinking the Billings defense will hold down the Danger offense, while the Nebraska defense, which has been suspect all year, gives up just enough.  Wolves advance 42-28

The now battle tested and still hungry Wolves would then travel to Spokane, where the Empire are employing a new AWB (Any Warm Body) approach to the game.  In the final three weeks of the regular season they lost two of their biggest offensive weapons in Trevor Kennedy and Carl Sims for the year.  Expect a defensive struggle much like the last meaningful game they played on June 4th.  Except this time I don’t think Spokane has the offense weaponry to grind out the game winning drive, and Billings escapes 35-31

THE best game, on paper, of the first round of the playoffs will take place in Cedar Rapids on July 9th.  The league's best defense in several categories (points, total yards, and passing yards allowed per game) faces off against easily the most prolific passer and now healthy Charles McCullum of Wichita Falls.  This game will come down to can the the two offensive tackles for Wichita Falls slow down the pass rush of Jeremiah Price and Xavie Jackson.  My heart says yes, because I want to see Sioux Falls play a new team in the United Conference championship game, but my head says no, and Cedar Rapids wins 28-24.

Cedar Rapids at Sioux Falls (take 4) for the United Conference Championship, and this year the right to host the United Bowl (CR holds the Strength Of Schedule tiebreaker over Spokane .469 to .435 as the two teams have 12-4 records and did not face each other in the regular season).   Any game is tough to win in Sioux Falls, and a playoff game is darn near impossible.  But, the Storm have had nearly a month off and facing the pass rush Cedar Rapids brings to the table isn’t a walk in the park on your first game back on the job.  I don’t know what it is, but the Titans just never seem to be able to unhook the plow on offense in Sioux Falls, so after what should be a fairly even yet stale first half, the Storm pull away 42-31

Billings Wolves @ Sioux Falls Storm

Billings vs Sioux Falls in the United Bowl. It turns out, this would only be the 2nd time and first in Sioux Falls as in years and leagues gone by, the teams were in the same conference.  I’m just going to leave my commentary for this one should both teams get to this point. The teams squared off once this year a whole FIVE MONTHS ago (by the time this game would arrive) and while not much has changed in Sioux Falls, coach Chris Dixon is making another hot run late in the season, and could give the Storm everything they could handle.  I have a feeling Chris, as a competitor, wants very badly to be the guy to lead a team to a playoff victory in Sioux Falls.. But can the padawan finally become mightier than the Jedi Master… guess we’ll see. Oh, and a growler of Street Fight,... you know who you are...

I’m wrong a lot though, and I don’t write this blog to be based in fact, it’s always ALWAYS been my opinion.  Some people can’t handle that, but hey whaddya know my opinion isn’t always that of some lone wolf howling out “...Tell me of that Treasure State Story..” on a bluff above the RimRock Auto Arena.  Sometimes, probably more often than some of you posers reading this like to admit.  I’m right.  Deep down in places you don’t talk about at parties, you want me in this blog, you need me on this blog.

Have a safe and happy 4th of July kids… Until the next time I get pissed off at the world, stay thirsty my friends.

Tuesday, June 7, 2016

Brain Droppings

*Please Note*

The opinions, beliefs and viewpoints expressed herein by the the author are the author's own and do not necessarily reflect the opinions, beliefs and viewpoints of the Sioux Falls Storm or the Indoor Football League, nor do they reflect official policies of the Sioux Falls Storm or the Indoor Football League.
“The best laid schemes of mice and men” the Robert Burns saying goes… “often go awry” and so too do the best intentions of the off again, on...well, let’s be honest, off again indoor football blogger in me.   The 2016 Indoor Football League season has crept into its penultimate week, and I’ve nary a scheduled pitstop made.  I won’t bore you with the facts of the season, the playoff races, and all that. “Jim” over on the Indoor Football Forum group on Facebook/Twitter does a WAY better job of keeping up with things than I could ever hope to.  I sometimes think the guy never sleeps.  So what you’re about to read is a massive brain dropping of my thoughts and feelings about everything that’s gone on since I last posted.  

To the absolute shock of absolutely no one, the Sioux Falls Storm are, once again, leading the league in attendance, and wins.  But there aren’t the same numbers as last year.  Then I began to watch highlights from the other games and saw Sioux Falls isn’t the only one having troubles getting butts in seats.  It’s.. well... everywhere.. Iowa had a couple thousand, maybe, if I squinted and give them the benefit of the doubt for an in-state game against Cedar Rapids a week ago.  Sure, the Barnstormers were eliminated from the playoffs, but this is your rival from a few hours away.. Surely some fans from Cedar Rapids made the trip to boost numbers.. But sadly It didn’t look that way.  We’ve read articles in the Spokane newspaper about how Sho...err...Empire attendance is down by close to 50%... I’m neither a mathematician, nor an accountant, but that can’t be good for the bottom line.  

So what happened?  Could this possibly be the karmic repercussions of rule changes that switched the entire focus of a sports league?  I mean, surely there was one person on the Titanic that was like.. “I tried to tell them about that bleeping iceberg, but nooo.. No one listens to the people that actually watch for things like that”  Karma, maybe.. Has the sport finally jumped the shark...probably.  

For the most part, I think people don’t like developmental leagues.  There are a lot of markets that suffer from what I’ve called “D1 syndrome” where if it’s not top shelf, it’s crap.  This is why, attendance in every league that's attempted 100 yard professional “outdoor” American Football has been lackluster. The competitiveness, the athleticism, the quality could all be top notch, but no wants to see Bubby Brister throw passes to Chad Johnson if you know what I mean.  

There could be a lot more to the drop in attendance across the board, but to me that’s certainly part of it.  I know even my diehard interest has waned.  When I spend more time commenting during games about the Colorado kicker wearing the biggest thigh pads on the field (no lie) and telling the Colorado kick coverage team that black shoes don’t match navy pants.  Something about your product is flawed.  

SO, here is an incomplete list of incomplete thoughts about why he IFL sucks.
  1. Veteran Rule. It’s led to sloppy penalty filled games, and an overall drop in the quality of the play.  It isn't until after most players have given up the hope of ever making the NFL that they truly become great indoor players.  They adapt their games to the field size, they make full use of their charisma with the proximity of the fans, and they actually start to care about something larger than themselves.  In Sioux Falls names like Blackburn, Bryant, Fluit, and Murphy, are used with reverence and without first names, because none are needed.  But we also would recognize Mark, Terrance, Nate and Leif on the street, and more importantly they’d recognize us.  
  2. The games take TOO damn long:  This is probably more a Sioux Falls specific problem, but it sucks. 90,000 in game promotions, an inexplicable 20 minute halftime (that’s actually normally closer to 30 on my watch, and yes I've timed it, twice) and a kickoff that used to happen at 7:05 like clockwork is now more of a casual 7:18ish kind of thing.  You know, whenever… Surely the mom and 4 kids behind me can stay out until 11. I’ve heard talk of moving the games up to 6:05 or even worse, shortening the games to 12 minute quarters.. Yes.. let's shorten the ONE THING most of us came to see, and use timing rules these guys haven’t played since HIGH SCHOOL… Instead, how’s about we simply work to improve the pace of play.. 20 second play clock, since the refs can’t spot the ball with any urgency anyways. “Professional” on field staff.. I love the “promo girls” as much as the next guy, but the refs need to get the ball to get it spotted.  12 minute halftime.  The NFL uses this number and it seems to work for them.  I’ll even allow 15 for teams without a ton of media timeouts.
  3. Geography: I love the fans that have driven and or flown all the way from Washington state to Sioux Falls for a game. Heck, I love ALL fans that come to Sioux Falls and watch games.  They stop by the tailgates, take pictures, talk football, and oddly, occasionally,  genealogy.  They bring cheese. They’ve brought local craft beer from their home towns, and footballs missing an entire panel. It sickens me that I have to drive past two indoor football markets that are still semi thriving to get to our closest road games in Des Moines, and Grand Island (4.5 hours each)  The level of professionalism and talent  isn’t the same between the CIF and the IFL.  It’s noticeable.  But you know, I’m not a “D1 Syndrome” guy, and the Wichita v Sioux City game over Memorial Day weekend was damn entertaining.  First, because dear God Chuck Wright is still playing football.  He’s 35.  He’s only slightly younger than his head coach.  Hell, I think they played together.. For sure against one another..anyways.. Second, it was a damn entertaining game.  Just as entertaining as anything Sioux Falls has been involved in over the last decade.  I know, it’s never going to happen… the bridges are burnt, scorched, demolished.. But man what a nice fan and travel  friendly league it would be with Wichita, Sioux Falls, Sioux City, Dodge City, Salina, Chicago, Bloomington, Grand Island, Omaha, Green Bay, Cedar Rapids and Des Moines... pass the dutchy on the left hand side
  4. The players suck too.  No, not all of them.. But enough of them.  I’m not talking about their athletic ability.  Lord knows they’ve forgotten more football than I ever knew, and a good chunk of them we’re just born the last time I put on a helmet and shoulder pads.  But there are far fewer entertaining players than there used to be.  They’re all still trying to move up… trying to get the CFL tryout, that slightly bigger AFL check maybe.  They aren’t looking to make business connection, or find a home in Sioux Falls, or Green Bay, or Des Moines… it’s a different time...a different league…a different player.
  5. Eversport…aka you wanted me to PAY $110 dollars for a season of games that by all the 3rd hand accounts I've heard have barely worked.. No thanks.. Not when I can watch the CIF games, and listen worldwide to the audio streams for free.. Sure, I get what I pay for, and the ole Silver Fox ain’t as smooth as he used to be.  But hey, I’m not out any money for a substandard product either.  There’s a line in the movie The Shawshank Redemption…”Get busy livin, or get busy dying..” time the IFL did the same with its attempt at streaming its games.  Make training for team or arena staff that’s responsible for this mandatory, or just quit it altogether and save the time and effort.  

As for the league itself.. Well, in my opinion, things aren’t looking good.. Attendance in Billings, Colorado, Wichita Falls, Cedar Rapids and Des Moines is at a level that can’t possibly be making the wallets of those ownership groups happy.  Oh but wait.. Our saviors out of Utah… the FANchise.. Now, officially known as the Utah Screaming Eagles have signed on to compete in the IFL for the 2017 season.  The more I read, the less enthused I become.  Sure, these are smart businessmen by all accounts, and it looks like they might have the financial wherewithal to make a serious go of it.  But this notion of crowdsourcing teams names, an app to call plays, and not all fans being created equal, and some of the other things I’ve read..  I’m not buying any of it.  Seems like a sham at best, and a scan at the worst.   

So there you have it folks. A barely proofread, largely incoherent, completely grammar free rant.  Slainte!

Tuesday, February 2, 2016

This Has All Happened Before

Well, holy balls if it isn’t the first indoor football related blog post on this channel in years.  Life's funny sometimes, and doesn't leave a guy time to say what’s on his mind about various matters.  Sure “Jim” over at the Indoor Football Forum website/facebook group does a wonderful job keeping all of us up to date on the various comings and goings in the indoor world, but my thoughts and feelings get lost in the shuffle of the 39 different threads a week. This is not intended to be a coherent well written piece, nor will I spend a lot of time proofreading...just a fair warning.  So as always I’ll preface this whole blog with the standard disclaimer..

*Please Note*
The opinions, beliefs and viewpoints expressed herein by the the author are the author's own and do not necessarily reflect the opinions, beliefs and viewpoints of the Sioux Falls Storm or the Indoor Football League, nor do they reflect official policies of the Sioux Falls Storm or the Indoor Football League.

Looking through this site I see that the last post I put up was in 2013, and my how much really hasn’t changed.  The Indoor Football League really needs to get over itself.  They operate the most expensive 50 yard american football league that doesn’t use rebound nets, and has had to fire not one, but two teams AFTER originally releasing the schedule back in October.  

Given the rather shady history of the indoor game, i’m actually impressed they pulled this off at all, let alone twice, and managed to keep all the home dates in tact for all the teams. Kudos on that.  However, here we are again, at a stagnant number of teams, in a league that has some serious western outposts.  Thankfully, we’ve added Billings (again) and Spokane to the mix since the last update so the fine folks in Tri-Cities that I’ve been trying to get rid of for years have a much easier travel budget.  

SO, in case you live under a rock, late in the 2015 season, the IFL announced that it was remaking its image and purpose from professional minor league to a “developmental” league designed to help players “move up”.  Now we could debate the various merits of moving to the Arena Football League, but there is also the outdoor Canadian Football League and of course the NFL.  One rule change that came along with the dramatic shift in league philosophy is a limit in the number of veteran players a team can have on their active game day roster.  Now, per usual the league has not publically issued the exact verbiage so I’m sure we’re just a roster audit away from some league shenanigans where SOME teams only have 7 veterans on their 25 man active roster, as opposed to the 21 man game day list.  I guess we’ll see.  

It’s a horse manure rule designed to limit the effectiveness of certain teams who have won themselves a lot of league championships with guys that have played 4, 5, 8 years...It’s also a thinly veiled attempt to cut costs, which is very odd in a league that allegedly only allows all of its teams to pay all of its players the exact same $225 a game.. but I digress.

It is what is is, and beating a dead horse, although inefficient, certainly feels good, but it’s time for me to move on.  Next up we have the feces fest that was the state of indoor football in the State of Minnesota this last year.  The Axemen out of Bemidji managed to finish the season , but shortly thereafter the GM resigned.  The local Pioneer newspaper chronicled the tales of a woebegone franchise here:

Then in a November 23rd article it was revealed that they had not renewed their arena lease for 2016, the IFL announced their demise and a revised schedule the next day.  The press release, available here:

states "The League has taken this proactive measure as a result of the Axemen organization failing to achieve operational standards and league commitments that are required of IFL member teams,"
SO, roughly translated, don’t try to run a substandard operation here, we expect professionalism.  Ok, that’s cool.. but if we’re being real that’s an extremely high standard for an indoor team to reach, and If i’m being honest, only about 10 teams in ALL of the Arena/Indoor world meet that standard.
Then we have the rise and fall of the Minnesota Havok.  The 2nd shortest tenure of all time in the IFL behind the Cheyenne Warriors.  They were announced in September, had signed indoor veteran Jose Jefferson as head coach and most of us hard core fans thought things looked like they just might work.. Then on December 28th, they team announced Jefferson was let go and a local semi-pro coach was hired.. sure signs of the impending doom which became official on January 30th.  The press release reads, in part ““As a result of the Havok organization failing to reach minimum IFL operational standards, the league has made the difficult decision to terminate the team’s membership,”  sounds vaguely like the Axemen release… but again the short story is they will not allow you to have a semi-pro organization in our league.  Reading between the lines based on commentary on Sioux Falls sports radio whose contacts in Mankato "weren't fit for air" things in Mankato were sketchy from jump, and doomed from the beginning. Which sort of begs the question about the vetting process to get into the IFL.

So, why do I say the league needs to get over themselves?  Well, as I fan I love to watch my team play.  Home or away, makes no difference to me.  Back in the original days of the IFL, we had teams in Omaha, Sioux City, and Wichita… places that, for me, are very cheap and easy to get to and watch the Storm play.  Those town still have teams, albeit in a league that requires a bit of a lesser product and professionalism.  In year one of the CPIFL I watched Salina and Wichita play to a PACKED Hartman Arena, and watched a very well run event, with two very talented and professional teams. I mused several time there HAD to be a way for the CPIFL to find some middle ground with the Sioux Falls, and Cedar Rapids of the world.  Let's make this a great regional league with great regional rivalries. It's past time, and the fans deserve better than what they're getting on both sides.

Things had dramatically dropped off by the time in season two of the CPIFL where I watched the scrubs that called themselves the Lincoln Haymakers attempt to play with a rather shabby bunch of players from Salina.  The level of game day operations in Salina was on par with anything I’d seen in the IFL, but the level of talent and professionalism on the field had taken a hit so noticeable, my wife said something about it.

For the 2015 season the CPIFL became the CIF after merging with the remnants of the Lone Star Football League, which was essentially the Intense Football League v3, a league based mainly in Texas and New Mexico.  For the first time ever a Texas based indoor team was actually competitive in a league with teams north of the Canadian River (which is central OK for those of you too lazy to Google it) . The Texas Revolution, run by good ole Tommy “Slappy B” Benizio former slimeball commissioner of the IFL who left during the 2012 season to run the aforementioned team, faced the Sioux City Bandits in the 2015 championship game in Sioux City.  I personally did not attend any games in 2015 but given that a championship game in Sioux City drew a measly 3700 paid attendance tells me everything I need to know.  

SO, the CIF or whatever it’s going by this year isn’t without its warts, but it has teams in geographic locations that would be very advantageous to the teams in the IFL.  If only the two leagues could meet some sort of middle ground as far is finances go.. yeah, I’d better pass that Dutchy on the left hand side…

So I don’t want to sound too bitter, but a decade following indoor football is bound to leave a sour taste in anyone's mouth.  The 2016 season is upon us, and in the IFL, we’re back to 10 teams, of which, eight make the playoffs for a three week playoff run ending in late July.  I suppose if at the end of last year you’d have told me we’d be swapping Bemidji for Spokane I’d have taken it in half a heartbeat, so here we are.  

TexXx’s 2016 kinda too early predictions:
United Conference
  1. Sioux Falls
  2. Cedar Rapids
  3. Iowa
  4. Green Bay
  5. Wichita Falls
Intense Conference
  1. Nebraska
  2. Billings
  3. Colorado
  4. Tri-Cities
  5. Spokane

I can’t guarantee a weekly update, but it was excellent therapy back in the glory days, so maybe...maybe not.  I’ve still got the login credentials for the old IFL Fan Talk blogtalkradio account, and they still work, so maybe I’ll find someone to do a podcast or two with… guess we’ll have to see what the interest level is.  

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

An IFL Full of Cheaters

This morning a former IFL coach that i respect and admire had some public comments about the continued allegations of rampant league wide payroll violations.    I felt compelled to issue this as a response.

I'm game for a good rant this morning.  Swallowed too much ool water... (Notice no p, keep it that way, k?)  
The Storm are not alone... The only ones that suffer in the entire debacle are the fans.  You won't raise the player’s pay scale but yet you continue to force teams to travel to Kennewick, WA for 7 games a year.  You also force fans that choose to travel to road games to drive right past venues for teams that you used to play but have chosen to look after their bottom line and disassociate themselves with teams that are doing what Coach just talked about.   You can spin the PR any way you want, tell us they couldn't compete on the field so they took their ball and went home or, perhaps they got tired of ever escalating travel costs.  Mr. Scott and Mr. Hartman didn’t make their collective fortunes needlessly spending money in their businesses.  
If the money from just one trip out to Tri-Cities, WA were split amongst the players…I’m sure they would appreciate it. 

Another way the IFL as a league has failed the fans is with transparency.  Prior to last year I had NO idea that a third party letting a player use a car was against league rules.  Was I unwittingly violating league policy by letting an unnamed player use my car to run to the grocery store in my car?  Was giving him a ride home from the bar considered “additional compensation?”  I also know the Sioux Falls is not the only place where things like that go on. 
I understand the desire to keep your operations manual close to the vest, but there are a lot of things that are best opened up for public consumption, you know like playoff tiebreaker rules being published in the BEGINNING of the season. 
Some teams have needlessly spent untold thousands of dollars in the sake of being competitive.  Sure, everyone loves a winner, but if you can’t make it with your core group of fans and sponsors, minor league sports is the wrong line of work for you. 
OK, so there’s that rant.. now allow me to spend a small amount of time playing devil’s advocate from a historical perspective. 

NONE of the 4 major American professional sports leagues were built up on the idea of a level playing field from a salary standpoint.  Hell the Packers had to issue stock in the team, making them the first and to date only publically owned major professional sports franchise simply to stay solvent in the 1920’s, and then again in the 1950’s.    This notion of fairness and a level payroll playing field is really in its infancy in the history of American professional sports.  Team come and they go until you find area’s where the niche sport catches on.  The NFL was like this in the 1920’s.  There are close to 50 now defunct NFL teams from that era. 
If we are to accurately compare the birth and expansion of a sport one must look WAY further back into history.  For baseball we’re talking the late 1800’s.  Let us also not forget that American Football was also very much a niche sport, bordering on minor league until the mid 1950’s, some 3 decades after it began to be played professionally. 

The AFL (the outdoor league in the 60’s), and the USFL became popular and drive the NFL to up its game why? Money.  They, if even for a brief time out spent the NFL teams who were purposely keeping salaries down, to open up their pocketbooks.  Even in modern collective bargaining the leagues teams have refused to let the players see the books.  To get a really good look at how badly they’re getting jobbed.

Monday, May 20, 2013

Time to Pack Our Bags


Indoor football, like life, is cyclical.  Leagues come and go, teams come and go and players come and go.  The only constant is change.  Rarely is the change for the good, but it’s change nonetheless.  If we narrow our historical focus studying indoor football to the 8 man 50 yard variety played in something resembling an arena, without rebound nets, then the history only goes back to 1998.  In that time three professional leagues stand out for having any sort of longevity.  The National Indoor Football League from 2001 to 2006, United Indoor Football 2005-2008, and the second coming of the Indoor Football League 2009-present.  These leagues, as you can see, last roughly 4 to 5 years before they implode, sometimes spectacularly like the NIFL.  

Anyone like me that can handle 3rd grade math in our heads has figured out that based on history alone, the Indoor Football league is doomed.  Couple that with the fact that the current league spread from Wisconsin to Washington state, and from South Dakota to Texas.  All that real estate and the league has only NINE teams.    The IFL have had recent press releases claiming expansion to twelve teams for the 2014 season, but I for one am not going to hold my breath.  I kind of like oxygen as it turns out.  

Throughout my last decade following indoor football and specifically the Sioux Falls Storm, I’ve met some great people, and some not so great.  Every arena has “those” fans, and “those” fans have ranged from 9 to 90 years old.  But it was one of those great fans (and the coincidence of a Storm road game and Mother’s Day) that landed me in the Hartman Arena just outside Wichita, Kansas the other night to watch former Indoor Football league member Wichita Wild take on foes from 90 miles up the road in the Salina Bombers in a Champions Indoor Football League (CPIFL) matchup.  

Ah, what it must be like to have a team only 90 miles away.  That seems like it would be a lot of fun, and it seems like it would make travel for the team cheap and easy.  It’s also an away game that the fans of a visiting team could make.    I remember the good ole days when the Storm had TWO teams in the same league as them that were less than a three hour drive away.  Those days are long gone, and given the history between ownership groups in Sioux Falls and Sioux City, likely to never happen again.  

 It’s too bad really.  Between the skyrocketing costs of travel in the IFL, and the Storm’s dominance on and off the field, owners that knew they wanted a smaller budget to get ends closer to meeting, and that actually wanted to compete jumped ship to the CPIFL.  So far, by the extraordinarily low bar set by the dozens of now defunct, or soon to be defunct leagues the CPIFL has had a phenomenal year.  The have played all of their scheduled games, and there are few of the normal shenanigans that plague leagues at this level.  

The CPIFL does a few things drastically different than the IFL.  First, player compensation is a bit more transparent than the IFL, where the claims are players only make $200 a game.   But many people doubt that every team pays their players only that.  So much so that I’m often reminded of a story Ronald Reagan is often credited with telling, about a boy with eternal optimism, that his father wanted cured.  He took him to a doctor, and the doctor took his patient into a room filled with a mountain of horse dung. "This is for you." The doctor told him. With that, the boy smiled, so wide he could have eaten a banana sideways. Excited, he raced to the top of the mountain of manure, where, with his bare hands, he began digging into the pungent heap. Baffled, the doctor and the parents looked at one another quizzically, "Son," the father asked." What in heaven's name do you think you're doing?"

"Well", the boy replied, "with all this horse dung, I figure there's got to be a pony in there somewhere!"

The CPIFL requires most of its players for live within 125 miles of their home team.  This is obviously a bit flexible, but the idea is to reduce or eliminate the costs of housing most of your 25 man roster.  The players can get reimbursed for mileage to and from practice and games.   This rule is in place so that teams focus on bringing in local talent rather than forcing them to recruit from all over.  It’s not a perfect science based of the rosters I saw, but for the most part it seems to work.  The base salary for the players game checks is also lower with $125 per game being the figure I’ve seen the most.  And, with all of this frugality, the play on the field was barely distinguishable from what I’m accustomed to in the IFL.  Perhaps we’ve wasted a lot of money trying to win games to save a fan base that really didn’t need saving. 

The league currently consists of ten teams, the Wichita Wild, Omaha Beef, Sioux City Bandits, Salina (KS) Bombers, Kansas City Renegades, Bloomington Edge, Lincoln Haymakers, Oklahoma Defenders, Kansas Koyotes, and the Mid-Missouri Outlaws.  Of these, four have spent time in the same league as the Storm in the past.  From talking with Wild fans at the pre-game tailgate it’s obvious to them that three teams are in danger of not being around next season, Mid-Missouri, Kansas (Topeka) and Kansas City all have little fan support, and are not very good on the field.  
It would be nice if lining up to fill those fictitiously vacated spots would be three current IFL teams that have enjoyed strong fan support  this season with Sioux Falls, Nebraska, and Cedar Rapids.   All three of these teams fit very nicely within the confines of the current CPIFL footprint.  They also give distinct advantages to at least one other team in the league. In this fictitious league Omaha, for example, would have four teams within 3 hours.  How’s that for tidying up the travel budget?  

So here’s one fans plea.  A wish that next season is all about the fan experience, and the bottom line.  Let’s leave past transgressions in the past, and place the ego’s aside, and play by the rules for the betterment of the entire sport.  Let’s renew regional rivalries, re-kindle old hatreds, and impassion fan bases.    Let’s do this, otherwise the harsh reality is that I don’t see the Sioux Falls Storm making it over to the shiny new arena for the 2015 season.

*Please Note*
The opinions, beliefs and viewpoints expressed herein by the the author are the author's own and do not necessarily reflect the opinions, beliefs and viewpoints of the Sioux Falls Storm or the Indoor Football League, nor do they reflect official policies of the Sioux Falls Storm or the Indoor Football League.