In a move that could have a big impact on American indoor/arena football players, the Chinese Arena Football League is attempting to rival its American counterpart leagues by moving from the fall, where it played its first season, to the spring and summer in 2018 for its second season.
Some of you might remember the CAFL for its amazing touchdown celebrations in its first season. Just for fun, let’s re-watch some of those.
Now, back to the real news.
So yeah, the CAFL announced today on the league website that they are delaying the start of the second season, after an insanely successful first year with six teams, and moving it to 2018 as a spring and summer league, like the rest of the leagues in America do. Here are some of the bigger comments from the league.
“Our first season, in the fall of 2016 was a huge success,” league founder Marty Judge said. “We learned many things from our tour of six great cities. Since then we have been working hard to put those lessons to work in order to ensure our long-term success. To that end, we have decided to shift our season to next spring, rather than the fall.
According to Judge, the move to a spring season is more than a calculated risk.
“By moving to a spring/summer season, our research shows us that we can better attract the Chinese fans to our arenas, and to our video platforms. This will make our CAFL business model even stronger.”
One interesting not from their release is that by moving the season to the spring/summer, they hope that they can scheduled a true World Championship Game between the CAFL champion, and the champion of the Arena Football League, which would be the most amazing thing in the history of the sport.
The release also revealed that because there is now more time before the next season starts that they plan to add two more teams and have eight teams competing in the 2018 season.
Oh and they want to make arena football an Olympic sport.
The hope is the move would demonstrate and validate arena football as an international game and to eventually become an Olympic sport. The CRFA believes the concurrent seasons will build enthusiasm for the sport of arena football and the anticipation of the international championship game will be positive for the league’s economics.
That would also create more jobs for American players, and also raises questions about which league players may want to join. In 2016 many AFL, and other lower indoor league, players played in the CAFL then came back to America this year to play for their teams here. That will not be possible under the new season that CAFL is switching to.
Currently, each CAFL team must have 11 foreign players, and 11 Chinese players.
Honestly, this is a very smart approach for the league, at least in my opinion. Who knows if the AFL makes it past this season, and the (likely) higher pay-day in China may be too much for some to pass up even if the AFL is back next year.
But really, I would love to see each league have roughly eight teams and then have a true World Championship Game at the end.
So yeah, while you may have to wait a little longer for more exciting Chinese Arena Football League action, it sounds like the league is trying to be bigger and better than ever when it resumes in 2018.