Semiprofessional football leagues come and go. For a state supposedly obsessed with the sport, gridiron on the professional level remains a tough sell. Despite this, owners, coaches and players of the Oklahoma-based Metro Football League are betting they have a winning formula that will succeed where so many others have failed.
Last week, the MFL kicked off its inaugural season at Crooked Oak High School.
Keeping it local, according to league administrator Chris Dodson, is the first step in making MFL a unique and sustainable venture. The five teams in the league are based in Norman, Oklahoma City, Midwest City, Stillwater and Shawnee, and every game will be played at Crooked Oak. Three teams are new, and two had broken away from the Central Football League, which stretches out across several states.
"One of the problems we had with semipro leagues is they have to travel a lot, and that is a big expense on these guys," Dodson said. "They are blue collar like the rest of us; they work for a living. They love the sport and want to compete as men in something that is controlled and have some fun."
Dodson said that another benefit of the MFL is that the league centralizes a lot of the administrative tasks. As league administrator, he assumes many of the nuts-and-bolts responsibilities such as scheduling referees, securing field time and looking over finances. That will free up coaches and players so they can spend more time focusing on their teams.
Ticket prices will be kept low across each team's schedule, leading up to a four-team playoff on May 17 and then the season-ending Metro Bowl on May 21.
For more information, visit www.okfootball.net. -Charles Martin