Last Sunday thanks to a generous fellow I obtained a free ticket to go see an AFL game. The Portland Thunder vs the Arizona Rattlers at the Moda center in PDX. It was my first ever Arena Football game. I’d never watched it (outside the occasional highlight) so I didn’t know what to expect at all. What I got was what I would describe as Football lite. Actually no, it wasn’t football lite, football lite is preseason football.

Arena Football is Football Lite lime. Lite beer is already bland, watered down and generally disappointing but no one is drinking it for the taste. You know it’s going to taste like crap. You drink it for the slight buzz to feel slightly better about yourself. Now we have Football lite lime. It’s the same crap, you know it’s going to taste like crap, but you think to yourself…well, maybe it’ll provide a slightly different type of experience. That lime might turn crappy piss football into somewhat tasty crappy piss football. So you try it. And it tastes basically exactly the same. That’s Arena Football.

First off, if you don’t know AFL, it tries to be different in a few major ways.

-50 yard field. Drives last maybe 6 plays at the most.
-A bizarre field goal setup. Two giant squares with space between. The space between is the field goal. The two big squares are like trampolines. If the ball bounces off of them, the ball remains in play.
-Walls. No out of bounds. You get downed by tackles or being hit into the wall.
-No punts
-7 on 7. One WR is always in motion and gets a running start, the ball is snapped before he crosses the line.
-Clock stops after every play in the final minute of each half.

These sound like interesting changes, right? You aren’t expecting quality NFL level ball, but at least this might be pre-season level ball that has extra wackiness, right? At least it will be fun to see?


Despite the weird goalposts, the 7 on 7, and everything else, it really just does feel like generic minor league football. It’s not a high enough level of play to enthrall you like the NFL, but it’s not quite wacky enough like Canadian Football to differentiate itself either. It more or less just felt like watching an NFL team do a full contact practice. I would have personally preferred more wackiness. I saw an interception off the bouncy screens, followed by a botched snap on a kick, and I got excited. This was going to be great. Then it settled into basic football and I spent most of the game mocking it along with the people I was with. The players are competent enough to get things done, but not quite exceptional to really impress you. It’s just alright. It was a good way to fill 3 hours, in many ways it was still football and fun to see football again, but it’s not going to leave a lasting impact. I was more emotionally invested in trying to get a T-shirt launched towards me from the cheerleaders than watching the game.

So in short, I’d recommend it under certain conditions. Find a day where you don’t feel like doing anything productive and it’s a great way to kill 3 hours with some people you know. Put it on in the background while working and watch the replays when someone runs into the wall. It was enjoyable enough, but it was no more than a simple distraction.

edit: fixed hilarious spelling error