Hunter Atkins says that NFL fans no longer need to lament the end of football season since the advent of the USFL and XFL. The XFL recently announced its planned schedule, which won’t compete with either other leagues. This provides football fans with year-round live and televised games. Score!
Once upon a time, football fans eagerly awaited the late summer month of August and its final week because that signaled the return of football season. Across the United States, children returned to school, teens headed off to college, and football season resumed at the high school, college, and professional levels.
On Friday nights, parents and children headed to the local stadium to watch local teens play football. Saturdays meant a road trip to the nearest college or university campus to tailgate, then watch the state or regional team go at it against their historic rival or the other colleges in their conference. And, on any given Sunday, fans flocked to professional arenas to watch the NFL teams meet each other on a field of glory or cuddled under blankets to watch on the television as summer turned to fall and the weather turned chilly.
Come January, football fans grew sad because the seasons all came to a close except for the NFL, which lasted until early February. Until August of that year, football fans like Hunter Atkins, a former sports reporter, counted the days until football resumed.
Two professional leagues have arisen to change all of that, giving football fans what they long wished for – a never-ending football season. The USFL and the XFL both announced their regular seasons and, when they did so, communicated to fans that they would not compete with the NFL for attendance or viewership.
By doing so, the three leagues will run their seasons concurrently, and fans get to watch essentially 12 months of football in a row. Here’s how the football year has shaped up.
NFL Season: August to February
The traditional football league in the US, the National Football League, retains its regular schedule. NFL pre-season kicks off on Thursday, August 11, 2022, with two games – NY Giants vs. New England Patriots and Tennessee Titans vs. Baltimore Ravens. The league kicks off its regular season on September 8, 2022, with the Buffalo Bills meeting the LA Rams in a Thursday night matchup. Three days later, on Sunday of that week, 14 more games ensue. The season ends with Superbowl 57 on February 12, 2023.
USFL Season: April to July
One of the two recently re-formed football leagues in the US, the United States Football League, played its 2022 schedule from April 16th to July 3rd, when it held its championship game. The USFL doesn’t hold a pre-season. The league kicks off its regular season in April, with games typically on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday. It holds playoffs in the last week of June and its championship game in the first week of July. The USFL announced it will reconvene for a 2023 season using the same timeframe.
XFL Season: February to April
The other of the recently re-formed football leagues in the US, the X Football League, played a partial 2020 schedule from February 8th to March 7th. The COVID-19 pandemic erupted, interrupting the football season and causing then-owner Vince McMahon to file for bankruptcy for the league. Purchased by Dwayne Johnson, Dani Garcia, and RedBird Capital in a bankruptcy auction, the league resumes play in February 2023. Its new owners announced the league would adhere to a similar schedule as originally planned for 2020 in 2023. That means the XFL will play football games from February to April each year.
For fans, including Hunter Atkins, this means a tiny three weeks during July without games provides the ideal vacation window. Those weeks become the only weeks without a professional football game beginning in 2023.