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Come down from your pedestals

Don't you think it would be nice to let the game sell itself? That wouldn't be Vince McMahon's style, however. The XFL started play yesterday and there's more on The Score (Channel 16) at 1 p.m. today.

Don't you think it would be nice to let the game sell itself?

That wouldn't be Vince McMahon's style, however.

The XFL started play yesterday and there's more on The Score (Channel 16) at 1 p.m. today.

If you read the in-depth interview with McMahon in February's Playboy (hey, it was at his house, not mine), you'll find he has all the right reasons behind the XFL's premise.

Things are a little too boring, safe and "lily white" for his liking in the biggest-selling professional league in North America. This is why ratings are down for all the television networks which carry the games, he says.

It's why the XFL is "in your face" with microphones attached to players, logos with colours of "bruises" and cheerleaders so beautifully buxom they'll make the Dallas Cowboys cheer squad look like a convention of nuns.

Players will be paid by performance, not by potential (a word which really means you ain't done jack yet). The lowly kickers get $35,000, while quarterbacks are elevated to premier status with 50-large. Everybody else gets $40 thou.

The bonuses come with winning games. (Now there's incentive every Vancouver Canuck except Bob Essensa could stand to have in their contract.) Teams will be awarded an extra $100,000 for every win and the money gets split evenly among the players. Each member of the championship team gets $25,000.

It's only a 10-game schedule which concludes with The Big Game at the End (the only thing not flashy about the XFL is the name of its championship final).

It starts after the Superbowl and is finished before the CFL gets under way.

However, you can bet this league will grow as the fans do.

There's been a lot of ballyhoo about no fair catches, quarterbacks are open season and no conversion kicks. Aside from the different rules, aside from the quality of play (a lot of NFL leftovers and castaways are on the rosters) and aside from competition, McMahon is going to make this league work.

McMahon, as you'll read in Playboy, is from the wrong side of the tracks. His formative years were spent as "trailer-park trash," a term used so often in his WWF to refer to professional wrestling fans.

He didn't have an easy childhood - physically abused by his stepfather and, he intimates, sexually abused by his mother. It was a hard life and he pulled himself out of it with his birth father's help and became the multibillionaire we see before us.

He does not, however, forget his roots. He has managed to hold onto the understanding of how attract the blue-collar crowd. He realizes the greater population of his market is willing to spend dough on the kind of entertainment which is all about sex and violence.

There's a lot more of those people out there than you can imagine (wonder why Jerry Springer is so successful?) - far more than the wealthy mucky-mucks who can afford skyboxes in any of the other major professional sports leagues.

So, the XFL will grow and, someday, it will lengthen its schedule, putting itself in direct competition with the NFL and the CFL and it will likely take people away from the NHL, the NBA and Major League Baseball.

However, those leagues could conceivably thwart the mighty McMahon and wrestling/football juggernaut.

They could come down from their pedestals in the sky, take a couple of Marketing 101 courses and realize the fan base.

Until then, they leave the throne available - a wide open road for McMahon to pave over.



Be ashamed, Kamloopsians. While you're at it, don't forget to be embarrassed.

The CHL all-star game at Sport Mart Place registered an attendance of 4,103 - 1,500 below the building's capacity.

The three-game series was the biggest CHL event after the Memorial Cup this year. What a pleasure it was to see an action-packed, hard-hitting, high-scoring game.

You missed it unless, of course, you were sitting at home in your plush reclining chair.

It wouldn't have been so bad, really, if CTV Sportsnet wasn't in attendance, showing the entire nation how Kamloops fans suck at supporting special events.

Of course, this is the same place which has to hold special nights to bring noisemakers and signs to Kamloops Blazers games (tomorrow, 6 p.m., against the Prince George Cougars). It's only by coincidence, I suppose, that noisemaker night has been held at the same time as Sportsnet decides to telecast a Blazers game.

Fans at the Multiplex in P.G. don't need any help and I'm sure WHL Western Conference all-stars and Cougars Christian Chartier and Dan Hamhuis are correct when they surmise it would have been a sellout in their building.

To the fans who did come out to the game, I hope you enjoyed it as much as I did. Plus, I acknowledge the way you showed appreciation for every player from both Qu├ębec and WHL teams. I figure it was a moment Chartier, Hamhuis and Kelowna Rockets Rory McDade, Bart Rushmer and Kiel McLeod will cherish - getting cheered in Kamloops.