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Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

The XFL filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy on Monday, marking the second straight year that an upstart football league has shuttered without finishing its debut season.

Yes, but: Unlike the Alliance of American Football, which folded due to mismanagement and a lack of funding, the XFL — which was off to a surprisingly strong start — fell victim to the coronavirus.

Why it matters: This reflects how the pandemic has devastated the live sports industry, with sources suggesting that other shoestring leagues could soon meet a similar fate.

What we learned: The XFL is owned by WWE boss Vince McMahon and Alpha Entertainment, and according to the filing, the WWE also owned 23.5% of Class B stock.

  • That came as a surprise, with some pointing to comments McMahon made in the past about the two companies being "completely separate."

What they're saying:

"The XFL got off to a hot start from a viewership perspective, drawing 3.12 million viewers in Week 1. By the time Week 5 rolled around, that number had been cut in half. Still, there were signs of life. The St. Louis BattleHawks had reportedly sold 45,000 tickets to their next game before the league shut down due to the coronavirus outbreak."
— Darren Rovell, Action Network

The big picture: When the original XFL debuted 19 years ago, game broadcasts featured a "sky cam" and mic'd up players — two things the NFL has since adopted. What innovations will the NFL adopt from the XFL 2.0?

  • The reinvented kickoffs were fun (only the kicker and receiver can move before the ball is caught), and I personally enjoyed the shortened play clock (25 seconds instead of 40).
  • But, like its predecessor, the XFL's lasting impact will likely be felt most on the broadcast side of things. The all-access presentation was undeniably awesome, and putting viewers inside the replay booth made for great TV.

The bottom line: As it turns out, it is very hard to start a football league — and virtually impossible amid a pandemic.

  • After the failings of the AAF and XFL, it could be a while before another one pops up, and I remain fully convinced that the only way we'll ever get a sustainable spring football league is if its owned and operated by the NFL.

Go deeper

38 mins ago - Health

Boris Johnson announces month-long COVID-19 lockdown in U.K.

Prime Minsiter Boris Johnson. Photo: NurPhoto / Getty Images

A new national lockdown will be imposed in the U.K., Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced Saturday, as the number of COVID-19 cases in the country topped 1 million.

Details: Starting Thursday, people in England must stay at home, and bars and restaurants will close, except for takeout and deliveries. All non-essential retail will also be shuttered. Different households will be banned from mixing indoors. International travel, unless for business purposes, will be banned. The new measures will last through at least December 2.

Updated 2 hours ago - Politics & Policy

The massive early vote

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

Early voting in the 2020 election across the U.S. on Saturday had already reached 65.5% of 2016's total turnout, according to state data compiled by the U.S. Elections Project.

Why it matters: The coronavirus pandemic and its resultant social-distancing measures prompted a massive uptick in both mail-in ballots and early voting nationwide, setting up an unprecedented and potentially tumultuous count in the hours and days after the polls close on Nov. 3.

Updated 2 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

  1. Health: Ipsos poll: COVID trick-or-treat.
  2. World: Greece tightens coronavirus restrictions as Europe cases spike — Austria reimposes coronavirus lockdowns amid surge of infections
  3. Economy: Conference Board predicts economy won’t fully recover until late 2021.
  4. Technology: Fully at-home rapid COVID test to move forward.
  5. States: New York rolls out new testing requirements for visitors.