I've been in Lake Charles for the past few days, and on Saturday, I went to the home-opener of the IFL's Louisiana Swashbucklers, which was mind-bottling in its greatness. For those not in the know, the Intense Football League is basically minor league arena football and has been in operation since 2003. Teams fold like nobody's business--or, more accurately, like nobody's doing any business--and this season sees the addition of expansion teams Frisco Thunder, Alaska Wild, and Katy Ruff Riders. Whenever a team actually does well, as the Odessa Roughnecks did last year by winning the championship, (Final score? 97-56.) their roster gets paced because all of the good players jump to the real Arena Football League. This is evidenced by the Swashbucklers' 59-10 pacing of Odessa on Saturday. (I got a free taco for the Bucs scoring more than fifty points.)
I would post a picture of one of the players, but NO PICTURES OF IFL ACTION EXIST ON THE INTERNET. Somehow, this makes me like it even more.
Anyway, the quality of the personnel of any arena football is inferior to the NCAA or NFL (or even the Euro League really), but the entertainment of watching a game in person is unparalleled. The difference between watching arena football on TV versus watching an arena football game in person is akin to the diffrence between seeing a picture of a naked woman and having sex with one. There's more scoring because the field is only fifty yards long; there's less kicking because the goal posts are twice as narrow; there's more vicious hitting because there's no out-of-bounds; everything is faster because the clock is always running. And there are only three or four running plays per game. Add to that that no one cares, which ensures that you can get a seat close enough to hear the players yelling at each other, and you've got yourself one hell of a night. Plus, the IFL has all kinds of added wrinkles. I was surprised to see that the coaches actually stand on the field--kind of like NBA coaches, but with less protection. Most IFL hosts are converted hockey arenas, so the edges of the end zones are rounded off, making scoring a touchdown...weirder. And from what I understand, players only make about a hundred bucks a game--they're unfamous enough to throw out t-shirts at halftime.
It's all quite a change from the NFL presentation I'm used to. Because of the lack of strategy and the horrible fundamentals of the IFL, I can't say I'm a converted follower; but I would definitely recommend you catch a game of either that league or the AFL. My ticket was free because of some dude handing them out at the entrance, my beer was $1.75, and I had a fantastic time. With the average person increasingly being priced out of professional sports, this might be a reasonable alternative to take your family to a fun game with people who are working hard to entertain you. Give it a chance.