When the XFL Draft began Tuesday we all knew it was never going to be some big, exciting, lavish production with the entire sports world behind it. Nobody’s expectations were especially high, but somehow it managed to still live down to them.
I was not prepared for how sad this event was going to be, or how unprepared the XFL seemed to be in holding a professional sports draft. I joined a crowd varying from 2,000-5,000 to check out the live stream.
Instead of a studio show on deep cable we got a livestream of a spreadsheet, some dudes yelling “CONFIRMED” after every pick, and a stopwatch. There’s a lot to digest here.
The official draft time was just the stopwatch built into Windows
Every time someone made a pick you’d see the cursor scroll across the screen to set the timer again. The only way this could have been
worse better is if there were a dedicated camera pointed at an actual stopwatch.
This whole thing played into how cobbled together the draft felt, which is astonishing for a sports league looking to carve out a place next to the NFL. You’re seriously telling me nobody at the XFL thought it might be nice to have some graphics?
We got to see a spreadsheet unfurl — in real time!
Big moment for people who love Excel. This was worse than literally every single website’s fantasy football outlay. When fantasy football is handling its drafts more professionally than your real football draft, that should say something.
The XFL Draft was just a conference call.
Look at the broadcast — it’s got a Zoom watermark and everything. Zoom is like Skype for the business world. It’s intended for business teleconferencing, not a live broadcast — but the XFL didn’t care. As someone who is on multiple Zoom calls a week I can tell you that most of my experience is “can you hear me?” “I can’t hear you,” “Hold on, let me check my mic.” And that showed here too. There was like, one microphone per team tops and resulted in the league saying “CONFIRMED” loudly after every pick, just to make sure everyone knew what was happening.
Hands down, the best thing was the chat.
At one point during the lunch break (yes, we’re going to talk about this), the draft show shifted to analysis. What followed was a 20-minute frozen image with audio that sounded like the analysts were talking through a communal kazoo. It was delightful and the chat made it even better.
THEY HAD A LUNCH BREAK!
This might be my favorite thing. You’re telling me that nobody was like, “I can just order a sandwich tray and we can draft through it.” I eat from my desk every single day and I don’t have thousands of people watching me on my Zoom call. Sometimes you’ve got to play through the pain like that.
Also this is an eight-team draft. Now I know they’re having a metric ton of rounds to fill out rosters, but like ... c’mon.
Despite all this, I’m still totally into the XFL.