Failed Sports Leagues

The world of sport is packed with nations of winners and losers. And the world of sports leagues is no different. Every few years, a billionaire with too much money, time, and confidence opts to invest in the high risk, high reward professional sports market. And as a result, the sports league graveyard continues to grow.

These days, our metaphorical sports cemetery pays tribute to generations of poorly planned associations. There’s failed professional wrestling leagues, a few defunct hockey associations, a lot of things with X in the name, and even the sports league equivalent to Frankenstein’s monster, Slamball.

Today, we pay tribute to our fallen sports league comrades. Because, although most of these leagues were half-baked, poorly planned or both, reading (and writing) about the failures of others is always a great confidence booster.

This is the FilthyRich tribute to the world of failed sports leagues.

World Championship Wrestling

It’s important to note that not all of the entries on this list were complete disasters. Some of them are merely casualties of a more successful competitor.


Ted Turner’s professional wrestling promotion, WCW, enjoyed a ton of economic success in the mid-nineties. Executive Producer Eric Bischoff rode the success of established pro wrestlers like Hulk Hogan, Randy Savage, Kevin Nash, Scott Hall, and Sting. Unfortunately, a slew of bad booking/business decisions, tumultuous backstage politics, and an overreliance on past stars all led to WCW slipping from the number one wrestling promotion.

And then the merger happened. Ted Turner’s Time Warner merged with AOL, labelling WCW DOA. AOL would go on to sell WCW to pro-wrestling rival Vince McMahon and the rest, as they say, is history.

Pride Fighting Championship

Not to be out done by the fake stuff, Pride Fighting Championship was the uber-popular international mixed martial arts promotion company that brought us world-beating fighters like Mirko “Cro Cop” Filipovic, Mark Hunt, and the legendary Russian butt-kicker Fedor Emelianenko. Pride hosted over 60 MMA events spanning its 10-year tenure (1997-2007).

Though Pride hosted some of the greatest fights in MMA history, rampant performance-enhancing drug abuse, lawsuits, an inability to break into the U.S. market, and stiff competition forced the company to sell.


It’s hard to imagine what the brain-injury doctors of today would have to say about the rough and tumble XFL. Luckily the XFL lasted only one season – their first one, in 2001.

Strategically positioned during the NFL’s off season, the XFL was billed as a harder hitting alternative with less rules and sexier cheerleaders. The XFL was a joint venture between Vince McMahon’s World Wrestling Federation and broadcast giant NBC. But, as it turns out, one professional football league was more than enough.

An inability to find an audience led to terrible ratings and a loss of roughly $35 million. The XFL shuttered its doors after a single season and today is widely regarded as a cautionary tale for the misguided billionaire.

If you’re looking for a little more detail, ESPN told the tale with stunning precision in an episode of their award winning 30 for 30 documentary series.

Image via Variety

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