Gone Games: 7 defunct teams, sports, and leagues

Thursday October 9th, 2014

One thing that gives the SI staff its wonderful job security is the fact that sports will be around forever. Or at least, some sports will. While we'll always be able to rely on mainstays like baseball and football, some sports don't have the same shelf life. Here are the histories of 7 sports that didn't stick around long enough for a spot on the SI home page.

  • 1
    Believe it or not, there was actually a point in my life where I dreamed of being a professional Slamball player. The trampoline-infused basketball league picked up a lot of steam in the early 2000s and looked like it might be the next big thing, even scoring a brief TV deal with Spike. It eventually moved on to short-lived stints on a few other networks – including CBS Sports Network and Versus – but hasn’t really been more than a blip on the radar for more than a handful of years now. I still wouldn’t mind getting a chance to suit up and throw down, though.

  • 2
    Founded by WWF (now WWE) owner Vince McMahon, the XFL certainly carried a significant amount of hype into its inaugural season in 2001. The goal of the “Xtreme Football League” was to serve as an unadulterated football complement to the NFL’s offseason, but it totally flopped and only lasted one season. But don’t worry – you can still watch the full games right here.

  • 3
    3Shovel Racing
    Shovel racing isn’t exactly “defunct” considering it’s still practiced in some parts of the United States, but it had a very brief place in the national spotlight during the 1997 Winter X-Games. The sport was featured in the extreme sports competition that year, but the event was quickly pulled amidst safety concerns after a rider suffered serious injury.

  • 4
    4Houston Comets
    The story of the Comets franchise is the biggest bummer on this list. They were one of the WNBA’s original eight teams and saw immediate success with some of the world’s best female basketball players – including Cynthia Cooper, Sheryl Swoopes, and Tina Thompson. The team won scores of fans and the league’s first four championships, creating the first ever WNBA dynasty, before folding in 2008 after failing to find a new owner to run the team.

  • 5
    5Roller Hockey International
    Roller Hockey International was founded in the early 1990s and was the first ever professional inline hockey league in North America. With teams all across the US and Canada, the league capitalized on the height of the inline skating fad and was comprised mainly of minor league ice hockey players - many eventually played in the NHL - who were trying to keep busy during the offseason. At the height of its popularity, the league had games broadcasted on ESPN2 but eventually folded when the inline skating boom began to fade.

  • 6
    6Women's American Football League
    Formed in 2001, the WAFL was one of the first women’s football leagues formed but it didn’t stick around for too long, folding in 2003 after struggling to pull in fans and suffering financial instability. There have been many women’s football leagues that have have suffered the same fate since then, but the Lingerie Football Lea-…ahem, LEGENDS Football League…is not one of them.

  • 7
    Founded in 1982, the United States Football League tried to compete with the NFL by playing its games in the spring and summer, during the NFL’s offseason. Initially, it looked like it might be successful. The USFL received considerable financial support from one Donald Trump and managed to steal away top talent from the NFL – including Heisman winners Herschel Walker, Doug Flutie and Mike Rozier. Other football greats such as Reggie White, Jim Kelly and Steve Young got their pro careers started in the USFL, but the league folded in 1987 because of financial instability and those players moved on to make history in the NFL

Pete Blackburn is a writer for Next Impulse Sports

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