Home > Where LIV Stands Among Shortest-Lived Sports Leagues 

The Saudi-funded LIV golf tour is officially no more, with the circuit announcing a merger with the PGA Tour and DP World Tour on Tuesday morning.  

The deal will put an end to the league, 362 days after the inaugural LIV golf tournament, The LIV Golf Invitational Series, held on June 9, 2022 near London.  

Now, the circuit that made waves across the sports world and, to a degree, legal online sports betting on golf, will be folded into the PGA Tour and DPWT to form a “a new, collectively owned, for-profit entity,” ending LIV CEO Greg Norman’s vision for a golf “super tour.”  

U.S. Betting Report wanted to contextualize how short LIV ’s 362-day run was, compared to other short-lived leagues, such as the original XFL and the Alliance of American Football.  

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How LIV Fared Versus Other Sports Leagues

A trio of spring football leagues that came and went over the last three decades had lifespans that make the LIV tour’s 52-week run look like a marathon (with the caveat that this merger may in fact prove to be a long-term win for initial LIV backers).  

Between the original XFL, which lasted all of 12 weeks in 2000, and other American football leagues like the Alliance of American Football (eight weeks in 2019) and the original USFL (four seasons, between 1983 and 1986) — there’s no shortage of contenders to vie with LIV Golf for the title of the shortest-lived sporting league.  

Another short-lived sports concept that dawned at the turn of the 21st century was “SlamBall,” which combined the contact of a football game with the acrobatics of trampoline gymnastics and the shooting prowess of the NBA.  

That Spike TV-funded league lasted all of two years, from 2002 to 2003, but faltered after a strong debut (that drew 2.3 million viewers), eventually leading the league to cease operations two years after its founding.  

Another contender on the U.S. end of the failed sporting league spectrum was the Women’s United Soccer Association, which tried to piggyback off the success of the 1999 Women’s World Cup, only to falter after three seasons of operation in 2003.  

The women’s soccer federation, which was founded in large part by cable giants Time Warner Cable, Cox Communications and the Comcast Corporation, failed to generate TV revenue or viewership, ultimately damning the upstart league to the waste bin of sporting history.  

Luckily, the Women’s United Soccer Association’s failure didn’t put a damper on women’s professional soccer, with the National Women’s Soccer League (or NWSL) taking the pitch for their 12th season this summer.  

Another football concept that met its maker, albeit after a much longer runway than its American cohorts, was NFL Europe. The European league ran for 16 seasons, between 1991 and 2007, eventually spanning the continent from London to Berlin — reaching a peak of nine teams between 1995 and 2004. Eventually, the demand for American football in Europe outside of the hotbed of Germany faltered, leading the league to go the way of the condor in 2007.  

Unlike LIV, most of the leagues mentioned above came well ahead of the launch of US betting sites

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Where LIV Golfers Go From Here 

While it’s not known at the moment whether LIV’s stacked roster of high-priced talent will all migrate back to the new PGA Tour-partnered entity, one thing that’s certain is there will be room for some of their talents on the circuit.  

Between superstar Brooks Koepka, who became the first LIV member to win a major at the 2023 PGA Championship, and other mainstays like Cam Smith, Bryson DeChambeau, Phil Mickelson, Dustin Johnson and Patrick Reed — there’s no shortage of notable names who helped get LIV off the ground (especially the controversial Mickelson). 

The question becomes whether the PGA Tour’s members will welcome back the well-paid defectors with open arms, or whether they’ll become permanent outcasts in spite of the merger between the two tours.  

For now, at least Norman and company can hang their hat on LIV lasting longer than a myriad of failed football leagues and avoiding the kind of short lifespan that left those circuits in the dust bin of sporting history.  

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